Debating with my Grandfather




My Grandfather belonged to a group called the Saturday Afternoon Club in the 1950's. Club members took turns giving speeches. My Grandfather kept a dozen or so manuscripts of speeches he gave including this one.

Evidently a club member, the "gentlemen from Maryland" had previously given a speech on the idea of liberty. My grandfather must have thought it a bit high falutin for he answered it with this speech the story of a former slave, Larry Lapsley, who had escaped to freedom.. 

Lapsley lived in my Grandfather's hometown, Salina, Kansas. In much the same way I was raised to regard my Grandfather has a hero from a heroic age Larry Lapsley occupied a similar position in my Grandfather's early panthoen. 

This speech was written fby a prosperous white man fifty years after Lapsley's death and at the beginning of the modern era of civil rights when many were still inclined to see Martin Luther King as a communist dupe. There were no Muhammed Ali's or Colin Powels to catch the white imagination only jazz entertainers and Step n Fetchits. 

I am tempted to be embarassed by my Grandfather's paternal attitude toward blacks but I know better than to judge predecessors by contemporary standards. Still I have isolated the most egregious section to begin the debate with my Grandfather over the role of evolution and his ideas of race. It is of course a one sided debate as he is not here to defend his point of view. On the other hand he is for much of my thinking is just the latest installment of his own updated for our times.

Some months ago the learned and scholarly gentlemen from Maryland read us a delightful paper on the subject, "What is Freedom." Now, freedom is a word to challenge the imagination. In its cause great gars have boon fought wad men have bled and died, In its awes frightful crimes have been committed. It is said of Madame Roland, that when led to the scaffold she exclaimed bitterly. "Oh Liberty, how many crimes are committed in thy name. She could just as well have used the term "Freedom." No word in the human language suggests so many pictures of human triumph and defeat, of glory, and of death.

The gentleman from Maryland approached his subject from the philosophical side. He bound it on the north, the south, the east and the east. He nailed it firmly to terra firma and having securely confined it so that it could not possibly escape, he proceeded to operate on it with all the deadly skill of a trained surgeon. We learned of "Freedom of the will", Freedom of Self-determination", "Freedom of Spiritual Self-Fulfillment", and many other freedoms of an ethereal nature. Then, the members of this club, the products of a super-educated world, over-indulged children of a prodigal and irresponsible age, proceeded to discuss the various imaginary aspects in which a heartless and cruel government had robbed them of their God-given liberties. When the discussion was over, that glorious old world, "Freedom", the home and aspiration of all mankind throughout the ages, had become a lifeless abstraction.

I ask you to bear with me tonight while I tell you the story of a negro slave who would be free. He was not seeking freedom of conscience, freedom of will, freedom of speech or any of the abstract freedoms over which the present generation is splitting hairs. Had you asked him about them, he would have shook his head in dismay. The freedom for which he craved was the right to be his own man and enjoy the sweet rewards that came from the labor of his own hands. He gained that freedom by his own effort. No John Brown incited him to make the try and no friendly underground railroad carried him on the wings of night to the promised land. I doubt whether he had ever heard of the Emancipation Proclamation and the tragedy of his story, if it has a tragedy, is the fact that if he had delayed six months or a year, the end of the great conflict would have set him free. Had this been the case, no court he would have ended life just an ordinary negro. The progress of human advancement is one of struggle and only those who do and dare deserve to be ranked with the immortal. The enterprise was his own and the fortitude and determination with which he carried through the undertaking would have done credit to a man of any race or creed. Had he lived in the age of "best seller", his story, skillfully written and edited, would have brought him a fortune. Certainly, it has elements as interesting and heroic as "Grandmother Brown's One Hundred Years." His story is a story of the border,- a story of the ever receding American frontie4r. Where can the poet or the novelist find a riche4 or more glamorous field for the exercise of his imagination? Some day and American Sir Walter Scott will come forth to sing of its heroic deeds.

Considering that he was a lowly negro, his experience is all the more remarkable. So far as I know, he did not have a drop of white blood in his veins. From somewhere along his line, he had inherited qualities of willpower, determination and perseverance, which makes us wonder about his ancestry. It may seem fantastic to speak of a negro as having ancestors, but I see no reason why it should not be so. White folks speak of their ancestry with pride and are accustomed to attribute their dominant characteristics to their forefathers. If a man is close-fisted, penurious and contrary minded, he unquestionably has Scotch blood in his veins. If he can not see a joke and is hopelessly pigheaded, yet still has within him the capacity to rule the world, it is attributed to his English ancestry. I might mention men in high places who are inordinately proud of their Dutch stubbornness, even though it may be generations removed. The thing that we often fail to remember is that the native tribes of Africa are as numerous and varied as the people of Europe. Their temperaments and characteristics are also as varied. The one thing they have in common is their color, so to us they have always been just negroes.

If you will take a look at the map of Africa, you will note that the Equator splits the Continent very near its center. The Cape of Good Hope is 35° south of the Equator. and Algeria at the Mediterranean is 35 or 38 north of the same line. The coastal tribes of the equatorial belt and the tribes of the humid river deltas have always lived where life was easy. food was plentiful and to be had without a struggle. The rigors of nature did not kill off the weak and they propagated along with the strong, so long centuries of ease and sloth in living developed races weak, both physically and mentally.

On the other hand, the tribes of northern and southern Africa developed in an altogether different climate and environment. Mere existence required more of a struggle and they were subjected to the inexorable natural law of the survival of the fittest. Only the strong lived to propagate the race. Many of these tribes produced a hardy and war-like people mentally superior to the tribes of the equatorial region. The Arab slave catcher was not particular where he gathered his victims, and he gathered the best with the worst. It is true that the forebearers of the negro, of whom I write, came over on a slave ship rather than the Mayflower, but had Edmund Burke compiled an "African Peerage", it might have shown that his ancestors were Kings and that he had the blood of Conquerors in his veins. I am inclined to believe that when you run on to the superior negro of outstanding qualities, who stands back on his heels and locks all men in the face unafraid, it is because of his ancestry rather than in spite of it.

What is known of the early life of this negro comes from the stories he told of his escape, and more particularly from a manuscript still in existence. Lily Learned, a little New England girl, while visiting her relatives, the Robinson family in Saline County, took down the story in longhand as it was told to her by the negro, probably twenty years after the experience.

Lily’s father, Jim Learned, was a brother-in-law of B.F. Robinson, a close neighbor of ours, and often visited his Kansas relatives. I am indebted to him for one of the most interesting Civil War stories I have ever heard. It is worth pausing to relate it.

In the fall of 1916, I had come back from the East. I had stopped in Washington and among other places had visited Arlington, and the old Lee Home. I found Mr. Learned visiting his relatives in Salina for the last time. I was full of Robert E. Lee and Arlington, and thought I could tell the stately old patriarch something interesting about it. He listened to me for awhile and then said, "Son, let me tell you a story.
He related that in the winter of 1961, his Massachusetts Regiment was encamped at Arlington, guarding the defenses o the city of Washington. The Arlington home was used as headquarters and was just as the family had left it. One day at noon mess, he and a buddy went by the place. Finding it empty, they proceeded to look it over. He said that hanging on one of the walls was a very beautiful portrait of one of Lee’s daughters, a girl of about 16 years of age. The more he looked at it, the more desirable it became, so he pulled up a table, climbed up on it, and took down the picture. It was then a problem of what to do with it. Finally, they carried it to the hall of the top floor, took the picture out of the frame, put it under his long army overcoat and they proceeded on their way. He said that the winter he slept with it under the matting of his cot. One of his comrades, who was more conscientious than he, told their captain about it and the captain demanded to see the picture. He said, "Jim Learned, do you mean to tell me that you stole that picture," and Jim replied, "No, Captain, I didn’t steal it, I just took it before someone else did." Mr. Learned went on to say that he had the picture hanging in his home back in New England but now that he had grown older, his conscience did hurt him a bit and he thought that before he died he would return it to the Lee family. He died the following year and I often wondered about the picture. A few years ago, the Federal Government restored Arlington to its original condition and at that time I happened to read an item in the Massachusetts Springfield Republican from Concord, New Hampshire, to the affect that a lady of that city had given to the Federal Government, to be hung at Arlington, a portrait of one of Lee’s daughters which her father, a Union soldier, had obtained there during the Civil War. When you visit Arlington and see that picture, bear in mind that it was Jim Learned who walked off with it, and it was his daughter, Lily the little New England girl who took down the story of the negro in longhand, who returned it to its original home.

But to get back to our story.

Larry Lapsley was born in Danville, Kentucky in 1840. He was owned by a well to do widow lady by the name of Lapsley, who also owned his mother and sister. She was raising him as a house servant. On her deathbed, and when Larry was some eight or ten years old, she gave him to her son. Samuel, with instructions to keep him as long as he lived too remember her by. Samuel Lapsley was evidently a young man of spirit and spending proclivities. He could hardly have been termed a New Dealer, because he did spend his own money. Like all Kentuckians of that day, he liked fast horses and before many years he had run through the family fortune. Even in the "Forties," the fields to the west always appeared greener, so he moved to Missouri. When he landed at Independence, Missouri, he had Larry and his mother, three cousins, and $5.00 in cash. He bought 50 acres of land in Jackson County near the Little Blue and about ten miles from Independence. Later he sold his farm and bought a livery stable at Pleasant Hill, Cass County, Missouri. Larry worked in the livery stable. In 1859, he was rented out to William Bunor, Samuel Lapsley’s brother-in-law, and it was not long until Larry discovered that he had changed masters, Bunor having taken him for debt.

By 1861, the Union Army had begun to cause trouble in Missouri and in that year William Bunor, together with some neighboring slave holders, took their slaves and went to Texas. They started in December 1861. They arrived in Texas in February, 1862 at a town, which the negro calls Bonum, but which undoubtedly is the present town of Bonham, Texas, some thirty of forty miles south of the Red River, the northern boundary of Texas. In the "Sixties," Bonham, Texas was little more than a name. Today it is the home of Speaker, Sam Rayburn, on of the most colorful of a long line of glamorous statesmen produced by the Lone Star state. Here, Larry was farmed out to a man by the name of Stancel. His master, William Bunor, then went back to Missouri, joined the Confederate Army and was killed at the Battle of Pearidge, Arkansas. The better part of two years, Larry worked in a still house under the head distiller, an old negro slave whom he called Uncle Jerry. When Uncle Jerry died, Larry became head distiller. He worked another year as head distiller for a man by the name of Drisko. The distillery was located in the Red River bottom. Then, the Union Army became troublesome again and the negro learned that in a short time he was to be sent with a wagon train to Galveston, Texas. His heart pined for Missouri, and Galveston seemed the end of the world, and, also, the end of hope.

With Larry, when he was brought to Texas, was a cousin by the name of Tom. Tom was evidently a large talking negro and full of big ideas. For months he had been urging Larry to make a break for freedom with him. He was sure it would be an easy matter and easily accomplished. The more cautious negro had continually called Tom'’ attention to the fact that between them and freedom lay the Red River along which Confederate forces were stationed and beyond that, the dreaded Cherokee Nation, a wild country full of unfriendly Indians, who were paid $100.000 per head bounty for all negroes and white men caught trying to escape north, and who made it a business of running down negroes with dogs. However, with Galveston staring him in the face, he consented to make the attempt with Tom, but he insisted that they travel only at night and not on roads. There must be the further understanding that once started, they would never turn back. Tom congratulated Larry on getting up his courage and said that if he had just listened to him they would have been in the Union Army long ago. With such provisions as they could gather together, one night they started north. They did not have much trouble in getting across the Red River, crossing one night on a raft which they constructed, but once in the Indian territory, their troubles began.

To start with they traveled only at night but nature was unkind to them. The days would b bright and sunny, but each night blinding rain storms came up. In the darkness travel was impossible. Wringing wet and in terror from lightning, they sought shelter behind huge tree trunks. Travelling in the early light of the morning, they would stumble into Indian encampments and spend the days in the bushes with Indians all about them. This continued for a week and they were still in the Red River bottoms and had made no progress. To make matters worse, Tom, who had been so brave, began to lose his courage. He refused to travel except in daylight and then only on beaten paths, and kept handing back. The inevitable happened. Indian dogs picked up their trail and they were surrounded and captured by Indians. The Indians disarmed them, took them to a village, chained their hands, and chained them together. They must have been in this village the better part of a month. Tom’s troubles were over. He had had enough and was ready to quit. He made friends with the Indians and was given some liberty. Like many a better man, he had had great visions and had dreamed great dreams, but at the crucial moment of life, did not have the moral stamina to carry through, and so drops from history.

At first Larry was sullen and begged the Indians to kill him. He even courted death by trying to infuriate them to the point of murder, for he was determined that he would never be taken back alive. However, not even an Indian lightly blows out the brains of a hundred dollars. Larry found that he only drew down suspicion upon himself and tightened his bonds. He had not given up the idea of escape. He noted what Tom had accomplished by laughter and good nature, so he changed his tactics. He put his personality to work and made friends with the Indians. This brought results. They seemed to take a real liking to him. In fact, likeablness was one of the outstanding characteristics of the negro’s makeup. He was liked by his white masters; he was exceedingly well liked by the men to whom his masters rented him out, and they showed him much consideration. He was liked by the Indians and in later years everyone wished him well. With the development of good fellowship, the Indians removed the chains from his hands, leaving only his legs chained together. Armed guards were always about, but he was put to grinding corn and also often permitted to go to a Spring by himself to get a drink. He had noticed some iron tomahawks lying around the lodges. When not observed, he succeeded in picking up on of these, and he secreted it by a big Oak in the woods near the Spring. One night while a heavy storm was on, the Indians were having a big dance. Liquor had made them somewhat mellow. In one of the larger lodges, Larry was being guarded by a Cherokee by the name of Neal Bean, with whom he had become very friendly. He went to Bean and said that he just must go out. Bean was enjoying the festivities and did not want to leave. He told the negro to go, but to et back in a hurry. The negro went out, found the tomahawk, broke his leg chains, and was again free. His escape was discovered at once and from that time on he became a hunted beast.

He experienced the stark terror, time and again of being almost ridden over by armed men and yet escaping detection. No doubt you have hunted with dogs and have joked about the hare being one jump ahead of the hounds. Did you ever try to picture the mental attitude of the hare? This two-legged beast would dash out of a thicket and hear the dogs entering on the other side as they followed his trail. Nowhere in the woods or the open was he safe, so he took to the streams. He lived for days with only his head above the water in the bushes, while he watched the Indians poking in the drifts, looking for him. The corn in his pockets grew sprouts and became matted together. One night the wolves began to howl and feeling that the Indians could not be close, he took to the open and headed north where he was sure there were mountains. These he reached and he called them the Pine and 5the Oak Mountains. He crossed many mountains and became thoroughly lost. By now he was on the verge of starvation and growing very weak. To make matters worse, the wolves were bold and he was fearful of attack. They trailed him and their eyes were speculative as if waiting for a kill.

One day on the top of a mountain, he came face to face with a catamount. The cat jumped upon a loose boulder which started down the mountain side with a roar. Even though the negro was starving, he laid down on the ground and rolled over with laughter because the cat was worse scared than he. He finally worked out of the mountains and crossed a river which he was sure was the Canadian. By this time, he could not walk a quarter of a mile without rest. At first, he could not sleep because of fear of wild animals. Later, a gnawing hunger would not let him sleep and an iron constitution would not let him die.

He finally stumbled into a dese4rted Indian Village which he recognized as a place at which they had stopped on the road down from Missouri. It was called Norfolk. The year before it had been used as winter headquarters for Union soldiers. There were a number of good sized buildings, but the place was completely deserted except for stray dogs, wild hogs, and wolves. In one of the buildings, he lay down to die for he could go no farther. However, life is sweet and hunger an irritating thing. It kept him thinking about the hogs. They would run into the buildings to escape the wolves. If he could catch himself a hog, he might still come through. After many heartbreaking failures, he succeeded in penning a large one in a building, but the problem of killing it was a staggering one. He tried to stun it with ten pound cannon balls that were lying about, but he was so weak he only succeeded in infuriating the animal. Then, he took a club, went in with the hot and tried to beat it to death, but it drove him on top of an old box bed. Finally the hog ran under the bed and became wedged so that it could not get out. The negro found an old axe. With this he took off one of the bottom boards of the bed so that he could get at the animal’s head and smashed its skull. He was also able to find a few matches and half of a case knife. He built a fire and gorged himself with half-cooked meat. This made him deathly sick and for a day he thought he would die. It was nearly a week before he began to gain strength again. Later the wolves killed a hog at his door. He drove them off and obtained more meat.

With the return of some strength, the desire to go on returned. He cooked up as much meat as he could carry, but since he had no way to convey it, ht took off his drawers, tied the legs together and so made a bag. The negro realized that he was telling the story to a refined little New England girl. He assured her that he first took the drawers to a Spring and gave them a good washing. He had made friends with a greyhound and he tried to induce it to follow him, but the dog would not leave familiar surroundings. So, having spent some twelve or fifteen days at Norfolk, with his bag over his shoulder, the negro took a trail leading north. Later, he struck an old road and after varied experience, he came to a large river. There was an Indian encampment on the other side. A Squaw was on his side with a skiff. He was but a skeleton of a man and she, a good Samaritan, took compassion on him and took him across the river in her boat. He described it as the Grand River and they crossed just above where it emptied into the Arkansas. The Squaw was a Creek, and the Indians friendly Indians, living on government rations. They were very kind to him and prepared him food which he could not eat. Then, supporting himself on a stick, he was conducted down the river about one-half mile to Ft. Gibson, where Colonel William H. Phillips, the founder of Salina, Kansas, was in camp with his Third Indian Regiment.

White folds gamble for money and for many other things which their hearts desire, but which have doubtful value. This negro had gambled for nobler stakes. It was his life for freedom—and he won, but to his dying day, his body carried the marks of the cost of the struggle. If you bear in mind that he was only an illiterate black man, his accomplishment of freedom looms rather large. By what standard shall we judge human achievement? I would expect Robert E. Lee to achieve, for he had education, family inheritance and tradition back of him. It is not difficult to understand Abraham Lincoln who had pure Anglo-Saxon blood coursing through his veins, and while his beginnings were humble, he received his training in the greatest school of all – the University of Hard Knocks. The Roosevelts, Theodore and Franklin, were both favorite children of smiling Providence. Everything in America was open to them. I am not trying to discredit these great men – all honor to them. I do maintain that in the great field of human achievement, their accomplishments somehow do not appear so imposing when compared with a Booker T. Washington who came "up from slavery", a Helen Keller who walked from utter darkness to light, or even a humble Larry Lapsley who cried, "I will be free", and who, by his own efforts, attained his goal.

At headquarters, a young man whom the negro described as tall, slim and light complexioned, took a quick interest in him. This man was Luke Parsons. It is well at this point to digress a moment and take a look at the background of Luke Parsons, the father of Mrs. Con Van Natta of this city and the grandfather of Constance Van Natta of the staff of the Daily Capital.

Luke Parsons was born in Massachusetts. At an early age his parents moved to Illinois. In 1856 he came to Kansas, buying a claim four miles from Lawrence, from a man who said that his wife was sick and he must get her back to Massachusetts. Parsons left his personal belongings in the cabin and went to Lawrence for supplies. When he came back the next day, he found a notice on the door saying, "No Yankees wanted here—didn’t the other fellow tell you." Then he realized why he had bought the place so cheap. He slept that night in the woods with his shotgun. He was a clerk in the Eldridge Hotel when it was burned in 1856 by unfriendly neighbors, from across the line. I believe he called them "ruffians." He fought with John Brown at Black Jack and Osawatomie. He was with Jim Lane in the battle of Frankfort and he was wounded at Ft. Titus with Sam Walker. In 1857, he went with John Brown to Springdale, Iowa where he studied military tactics and helped drill men. In 1858, he went with Brown to Chathem, Canada to attend a convention that drew up and signed a new constitution. The raid on Harpers Ferry was to follow immediately, but Brown ran out of funds and had to postpone it for a year. Parsons went to visit his folks in Illinois. As they did not like the idea of his activity with Brown, they outfitted him and started him west on the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. At Council Bluffs, he received a letter from Brown telling him to come back as the raid was a sure go, but Pikes Peek seemed more alluring to him and he continued going west. Because of this piece of excellent judgement, he outlived Brown 66 years. While crossing Nebraska, the party learned that the Pikes Peak Gold Rush was a bust. Parsons turned south again to Lawrence. In 1859, he followed his friend Phillips to Salina and was app09inted Sheriff of Saline County and all the unorganized territory west. In 1861, together with B.F. Robinson and five other men, he went to Ft. Riley and enlisted in the 6h Kansas Cavalry. Later he transferred as a Lieutenant into Colonel Phillips’ 3rd Indian Regiment.

Such was the background of the man, into whose hands the emaciated negro had fallen. It is not surprising that the negro’s story made a powerful appeal. Parsons fed him, clothed him, gave him money, and when he was able to work, hired him to look after his horses. When the troops were mustered out at Ft. Gibson, Parsons brought him along to Salina, where Luke had a claim within the present city limits, between Iron Avenue and St. Johns Military School. The trip was made by way of Ft. Scott and Council Grove. At Salina, they were three weeks in getting across the river, for the Smoky Hill was on a periodic rampage.

Larry worked for Parsons the better part of a year and for B.F. Robinson three years. He then homesteaded 80 acres of bottom land in Liberty Township, adjoining the Robinson farm. Later he purchased an adjoining bottom 40 acres, all of which was clear at the time of his death. From what we have been able to learn, Larry Lapsley was the first freedman to homestead land in the United States and because there was no precedent in the matter, it was with much difficulty that his homestead right was established.

It seems most fitting that the negro should have taken up his homestead in Liberty Township, for I know of no township in the state of Kansas where a freedman would have received more consideration. Liberty Township was largely settled by Swedish people. These northern Europeans were far removed from Africa and the slave controversy in this country. They were a liberty loving, democratic people who took great pride in their ability to make their own way by their own efforts, and they had deep respect for any many who could do the same thing. The negro was a welcome guest—yes, a welcome dinner guest, no matter where he might go and I never heard him referred to as a "nigger".

He was taught to read and write by Mrs. Robinson, the first school in the township being held in her kitchen, and of all the early settlers in Liberty Township of Saline County, I doubt if there was one who had more friends or fewer enemies. In act, his whole world wished him well. He was a faithful attendant of the first Sunday School of the township, held at the Star school, District No. 46, but I have always believed that his attendance was due more to loyalty to the Robinson family, who were sponsors of the movement, rather than his love of Sunday School. After the Sunday School was moved to the Bridgeport School House, he never graced it with his presence. When the good ladies of the community would reproach him for his back-sliding, he would always say that he was intending to start just as soon as his "busy season" was over, but so far as the Bridgeport Sunday School was concerned, his "busy season" was never over.

As a small boy, I remember him as being a well set up muscular man, six feet or better in height, but slightly stooped, and he always walked with something of a shuffle. Because of the condition of his feet, I never knew him to wear anything but overshoes or gum-boots, and he rode horseback a great deal.

Naturally, he was in truth a black Republican and he loved political discussions. One of his neighbors and cronies, Grandfather Hiram Smith, himself a severe Republican, would obligingly take the Democratic side of the argument so that they could have a pleasant afternoon of discussion. His nearest approach to profanity was the expression "By Gum", and when he wished to clinch an argument and make it unanswerable, he would say impressively. "The amount of it ‘tis." His favorite paper was the Police Gazette. Mrs. Robinson, a refined New England lady, strove in vain to reform his tastes in reading matter, for she considered that paper the last word in vulgarity. His stock answer to her always was that it came wrapped up; no one could see the pictures, so it couldn’t possibly hurt anyone. No man in America rejoiced more when Bob Fitzsimons hit Jim Corbett his famous solar plexus blow. No doubt, Larry’s dislike for Gentleman Jim, dated from Jim’s refusal to fight the renowned Peter Jackson.

When my two older brothers were boys, they begged Larry to tell them the story of his escape. He invited them to his home, cooked supper for them and gave them the works. The story extended long into the night. It was a long way home and they were on foot. It was a dark night and they were small boys. They were chased by Indians, dogs and wildcats all the way home.

Like all negroes, the palms of his hands were a little lighter shade than his face. Possibly he had worked off some of the color. As a small boy, noting this, I can remember confiding to my mother that I though in time he would turn white. Her answer was "Well, anyway, Larry has a white heart." Looking back over fifty years, I remember that genial, kindly negro as one of the most remarkable and unforgettable characters I have ever known.

In the fall of 1897, Larry Lapsley was taken down with the ailment which caused his death. He was taken to the home of B.F. Robinson, one of his most kindly benefactors in life, where he was cared for like one of the family. During the last nights of his life, my father sat at his bedside and was with him the night he passed away. Dad said that in the last hours of his life, the broken negro again went through all the agonies of his escape. He was chained to his captors, he was chased by hostile Indians, he was pursued by fierce dogs, and he fought for his life with wild animals.

There was on thing about Larry concerning which many people wondered. He was rather proud of the fact that it was the intention of Mrs. Lapsley, his first mistress, to raise him as a house servant. It has been said that it was not an uncommon custom of the time to emasculate, at an early age, make negroes intended for such service. It is a face that Larry never married. He lived by himself and had little or no relationship with other negroes. If Luke Parsons or B.F. Robinson knew that he had been emasculated, they were too fine gentlemen ever to advertise the fact.

I can venture this bit of information and you can take it for what it is worth. My father ws a severly religious man of strong convictions. Had he lived in Puritan days, he would have made an admirable Puritan except that he would have been handicapped with an Irish Imagination. Had he been in this country, a mature man, when the slavery issue was on, I am very sure he would have been a very black abolitionist. Certainly all of his life he was an ardent prohibitionist, although the welfare of the country demanded that he vote the Republican ticket. The morning he came home after helping lay out the body of Larry Lapsley, he muttered harsh things concerning the cruel and inhuman practices of the institution of slavery. Whatever he learned, that was the nearest he ever came to expressing it.

Larry Lapsley is buried in the Robinson family plot, in Gypsum Hill cemetery, on the hills above Salina, overlooking the Smoky Hill Valley. He rests now where all men are truly equal. In the same graveyard with him, sleep Colonel Phillips and Luke Parsons, men who came to Kansas to make it a free state. He is surrounded by whole companies of men who fought to make men free. Over his grave is a granite stone upon which thoughtful and sympathetic hands have had inscribed a verse of holy writ. I recommend it to the gentleman from Maryland in his quest for "what is Freedom". It is to be found in the 8th Chapter of the Gospel According to St. John and the 36th verse, and reads:

"If the Son therefore shall make you free, -- Ye shall be free indeed."