Skip to main content

Mary Chesley Killam letter

Call Number: RH MS P855


This 7-page transcript of an undated letter from Mary Chesley Killam is a descriptive memoir of her pioneer years in Lawrence, Kansas from 1855 to 1863. Writing to a newspaper near her native village of Barnstead, New Hampshire, she recalls the appearance of Lawrence when she and her husband first arrived, incidents involving abolitionist John Brown as a frequent guest of their hotel, and pro-slavery attacks on free-state Lawrence, including William Quantrill's Lawrence massacre of August 1863.


  • Creation: between 1880 and 1889


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Mary Chesley Killam

Mary A. Chesley Killam was born in February 1835 at Barnstead, New Hampshire to Benjamin and Sarah (Bodge) Chesley. On December 14, 1854, she married George Francis Killam, a native of Temple, New Hampshire. The Killams emigrated to Kansas Territory in 1855, arriving on May 1 at the free-state town of Lawrence. They opened a small Lawrence hotel, the Eastern House, located at the corner of New Hampshire and Winthrop streets, where abolitionist John Brown became a frequent guest. The Killams witnessed the sacking of Lawrence by pro-slavery forces on May 21, 1856. On May 13, 1863, George Killam died at age twenty-seven. On August 21 of that year, Mary witnessed the massacre of Lawrence by William Quantrill's guerrilla band. She died at Lawrence on January 18, 1916.


1 folder

Language of Materials


Physical Location

RH MS P855

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Stuart A. Goldman, 1997

Guide to the Mary Chesley Killam Letter
Mary Chesley Killam letter
Finding aid prepared by mh, 2008; Finding aid encoded by mh, 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in <language encodinganalog="language">English.</language>
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Mary Chesley Killam letter, Kansas Collection, RH MS P855, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States