B.L. Niggins Papers

B.L. Niggins was a businessman and landowner near Fort Scott, Kansas. Niggins and his family fearing for their safety fled Bourbon County for Shawnee Kansas in September 1861. Seven years before the Civil War began, violence spread across the Missouri / Kansas border surrounding Kansas’ admission to the Union. In 1860, Bourbon County and much of Kansas suffered a terrible drought that killed most the crops. The ensuing violence and poor crop yield left the region unstable, causing many residents to flee for other areas of the country.

In September, 1861, General Sterling Price planned an assault on Fort Scott to prevent Kansas Jayhawkers from raiding into Missouri. Union troops from Fort Scott under Major James H. Lane met Price’s troops in Vernon County, Missouri on Drywood Creek. Largely outnumbered, the Union forces quickly retreated back to Fort Scott. Price marched north and laid siege to Lexington, Missouri. Niggins noted the number of soldiers and violence in a letter to Mr. A. Baker.

All Eyes in this Country are turned to Lexington there are said to be about 40,000 secessionist there have been fortifying Maj [Samuel D.] Sturgis comeing in on the north side of the River Siegel [Franz Sigel] from below and [James H.] Lane from the South their combined forces it is said and thought to be true from 40 to 50,000 the word here is that Raines and Price will certainly be hipped out it is said that they are in a condition that they are bund to fight there was Last Thursday 14,000 union troops from Hudson to St. Joseph they have taken Platte City Weston and Liberty at Liberty there was a fight on Friday and the Town was burned 15 or 20 union troops killed and 30 wounded 50 killed on the other side there was 15 secessionist killed at Platte City the union troops were on their way to Lexington the Steamer Majors went down from Kansas City Friday to Cross over Maj Sturges command at some point near Lexington
B. L. Niggins Letter to A. Baker, February 27, 1863

After the Price and the Missouri State Guard left the region, Lane led raiders across the border into Missouri and burned Osceola a month later. Realizing that no town was safe from attack and that a military base was actually rather well fortified, many refugees elected to move closer to Fort Scott. Mr. Niggins, however, did no want to move back to the region. In an attempt to close his accounts and settle his debts, Niggins contacted Baker to sell his property in Bourbon County.

Money was scarce and many individuals like Mr. Niggins, needed to liquidate their assets to have funds to survive. Money though was not the only concern pressing on Mr. Niggins mind. The violence in the Northern region of Kansas and Northwest Missouri was increasing daily and Mr. Niggins and his wife were burned out of their house in Kansas City in November 1862. Niggins and Baker continued to conduct business together until Baker was murdered in early 1865. Niggins was then left trying to collect the $1,500 Baker sill owed him from the sale of his property.

The Missouri-Kansas border was infamous for the bloody violence that ensured years before the Civil War began. Bushwhackers and Jayhawkers constantly fought and terrorized civilians. The violence from the war and guerrilla warfare forced many families like the Niggins to move to safer locations while trying to conclude their business affairs long distance.

Contributed by the Bushwhacker Museum and Jail

View this collection