Tauy Jones and
Ottawa University.


By M. L. Ward

["Ottawa Herald," 20 Jan 1913, page 2, column 3]
Permit me first to disclaim the distinction that I am a Kansas Pioneer, I do not belong to the class represented by M. St. John, H. F. Sheldon, J. P. Harris and many others residing in Franklin County. I did not come to Ottawa until the fall of 1869. The pioneers had then well started the county, city and the school. The railroad from Lawrence to Ottawa was in operation, it reached Garnett a few months later. Two great distinctions I do not possess, I am not an old soldier nor a Kansas pioneer.

I am asked to give you some information about Tauy Jones and his connection with Ottawa University.

John Tecumseh Jones was born in the year 1800. He was a Chippewa Indian, but not full blood. In the memorial volume, The First Half Century of Madison University, now Colgate, I find this item: "In 1826 several Indians, of whom two were Ottawas, three were Chippewas, one a Miami and one a Pottawatomie, were brought to the school by Rev. Isaac McCoy. They came from the Carey Mission Station, located 100 miles northwest of old Fort Wayne, in Indiana, in what was then Michigan territory. They made their way to Hamilton, N.Y., on Indian ponies and were all received into the school. In 1828 it was reported that they were prosecuting their studies with exemplary intelligence and giving flattering promise of future usefulness. The location of some of them at that date 1869, is given. One was a teacher in the Carey Mission, another a farmer in Indiana. John Jones, an Indian minister, is said to reside near Ottawa, Kansas." None of these Indians are reported as graduates. However Mr. Jones must have remained in the institution for several years, for he became acquainted with Dr. A. D. Gillette, who entered the school in 1829, three years after the Indians were admitted. Dr. Gillette became a prominent city preacher, and he and Mr. Jones were warm friends, and corresponded for many years. It is probable that Mr. Jones was a student in Hamilton four or five years. It is my impression that he taught in a school in Kentucky before he came to Kansas." As the missionary, Jotham Meeker who died in 1855, mentions Mr. and Mrs. Jones in his diary, they probably located on the place now known as the Woodlief farm, in the late 40s or early 50s.

The maiden name of Mrs. Jones was Jane Kelly. She was born in Maine. She came ot Kansas as a missionary to the Delaware Indians and was associated with J. G. Pratt and Miss Elizabeth Morse in mission work near what is now Edwardsville, Kansas. She idealized the Indians and identified herself with the race, and yet she retained her New England ideas of thrift and order. I once heard her say that a sa housekeeper her life had been a long, fierce struggle with dirt. As their home was on the main road from Fort Scott northward, they often entertained travelers, making no distinction in regards to the political sentiments of their guests. I think Horace Greeley was once their guest, and John Brown more than once stopped over night with them. They were threatened by the Pro-Slavery element and finally their home was raided one night by the bushwhackers. At the first sound of their approach, Mr. Jones rushed from his bed into a cornfield just north of his house, and escaped. The ruffians broke into the house and not finding Mr. Jones, they ransacked and plundered, but offered no personal violence to Mrs. Jones. They dragged their hired man from his bed, slashed his throat, and tumbled him over the bank into the shallow water of the creek. This revived him and he survived. Mrs. Jones attempted to save a couple of small bags of coin by throwing a shawl over her shoulders and placing them, one under each arm. Fearing that they might be taken from her, she dropped each one in places at some distance from the house. But she was not successful in her attempt to save the money.

Capt. Holmes, who was connected with John Brown in those border days, told me that he passed the house the morning after the raid. He saw Mrs. Jones sitting upon a stump in the yard forlornly gazing at the burning embers of her home. They were living in a long one story building made of poles when I first visited them int he fall of 1869. It might originally have been a corn crib.

They presented a claim for damages against the government, and about the same time began the erection of the stone mansion now standing there. When I first saw it a peach tree had grown up in the open cellar and fruited, while their claim was pending. The house was completed about 1870. The greater part of the material which entered into the structure was obtained from their own land. But like many others who have built fine houses, they did not long enjoy living in it. Mr. Jones died in 1879. At that time it seemed premature. He had an attack of the dysentery. He would not consent to have a physician called. He was sick several days before any of his friends in town learned of the fact. Deacon Holt and I went out there and cared for him the night before he died. He was very weak and wholly indifferent. The exposure of that night's work gave me a case of typhoid fever which brought me very low.

John Tecumseh Jones was indeed a fine gentleman. He had a kind heart and a generous nature. He was respected and esteemed by his country neighbors. He had a wide vision and large hopes in connection with his race and his country. Both himself and wife planned great things for their people. Let us notice what they attempted.

After the death of Jotham Meeker in 1855, and his wife in the following year, at the mission near what is now known as the Indian cemetery Mr. Jones became the religious leader of the Ottawas, and prominent in their councils. The Indian Baptist church, organized by Mr. Meeker, numbered nearly 100. The greater part of the Ottawas had assumed the garb of the white man. They had opened farms and had built houses along the Marais des Cygnes, east and west of Ottawa. They were becoming civilized Christianized family after family. They had a church building and a cemetery.

In June 1860, the Baptists of Kansas held their first State Convention in Atchison. Among other business, the location of denominational school was considered. The previous February a charger had been secured for the Roger Williams university.

Where should it be located? At the dinner table of the Rev. Mr. Adlerson, the Baptist pastor, this question was discussed. Mr. Jones, a delegate from the Ottawa Indian Baptist church suggested that the Indian and the white Baptists should unite in locating the proposed institution. The Indians had lands, the whites could furnish the teachers. The Indians earnestly desired their children should be educated and trained as were the children of the whites. He was confident that the Ottawas would assist in establishing and endowing a school which would admit their children. IN the afternoon session this proposition was favorably received. A committee of three from the trustees of Roger Williams University was appointed to confer with the Ottawas. Mr. Jones presented the matter to his people. A meeting was called and the following paper was drafted and adopted.

The Ottawa tribe of Indians in council assembled at the school house of the nation on Wednesday, the fifth day of December, 1860, make the following statements and agreements. They are very desirous for the education of their children. It is their unanimous and earnest wish that when they grow up they shall assume the habits and customs and be able to discharge the duties of American citizens. They therefore, believing that this good object can be best accomplished through the aid of the Roger Williams University, do agree to give to that University 20,000 acres of their land of average quality with a fair proportion of timber and water privileges. Provided that in two (2) years from the ratification of the treaty, the said trustees shall have expended $10,00 in building and otherwise towards this enterprise, and also from and after that time, they shall board, clothe and educate a number not exceeding fifty of the Ottawa children every year for thirty (30) years. The age of said children to be between four (4) and fourteen (14) years, and also that after the expiration of thirty (30) years, the Ottawas shall be entitled to ten (10) scholarships in the said university forever. The trustees through their committee hereby agree to fulfill the above conditions, and also in every way possible to assist the Ottawas in the improvement of their condition and the education of their people. To this agreement all the councilmen of the nation six (6) in number signed their names, also the committee of Roger Williams University, being, I.S. Kallock, R. C. Brant, Benjamin Luce, in the presence of J. S. Emory, as witness.

In the treaty which was secured in 1862, these conditions were modified somewhat, especially in the name, which was changed to Ottawa University. It also provided that at the end of five (5) years the tribal relations to the government should cease and that each man, woman and child of the tribe, could hold a specified number of acres in fee simple.

The location of the school was established and a Board of Trustees named and provision made to start the school.

The early Sixties were stirring times. The white men who were appointed trustees, sought to promote several other things besides the school. The town of Ottawa was laid out. A railroad from Leavenworth to Galveston was projected and a senatorial bee began buzzing. It was a case of the many irons in the fire, and the university was the one that was scorched. The full history can never be written for most of the men have passed away. The Ottawas have long ago departed and only 640 acres of land were given to the university. Mistakes doubtless were made but I think no one should be charged with crime or corruption. The present O.U. has a good conscience and a clean record. Let us keep it.

But to my original subject. In securing the enactment of the treaty of 1862 and others afterward, Mr. Jones was an efficient agent. He did more than this. About 1870, I have not been able to look up the County records, Mr. Jones and his wife executed a deed of trust to three trustees, Rob't Atkinson, E. J. Nugent and J. S. Pratt, by which all of his estate should go to Ottawa University. Provision was made for his wife and adopted daughter during their whole life. His estate consisted of 800 acres of land upon which was fine mansion and considerable personal property.

In business matters Mr. Jones like many others, was careless in taking receipts. After his death many claims against the estate were presented, presumably some were unjust. To settle them the trustees were obliged to raise money by disposing of the farm.

They secured enough money to meet the claims, but they also took several houses in a little village in Ohio, and some land in Indiana. In 1883 some of the houses had burned and the others were in bad repair.

A house was secured for Mrs. Jones on Cedar street, near 8th, where she lived alone for many years, having for her income the interest on about $6000. During the last seven years of her life, she was cared for by her niece. Miss Lucy J. Kelly, who took her to East North Yarmouth, Maine, her former home, where she died in 1901. The final settlement of the estate was made May 8, 1903, at which time 45,387.45 was turned over to the trustees of Ottawa University to be used for the purpose designated in the deed of trust.

On the monument in the Indian cemetery, which bears the names of both Mr. and Mrs. Jones, is inscribed and very justly "Founders of Ottawa University."