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Thankful Sophia Mayo journal

Call Number: RH MS E191


This journal of Thankful Sophia Mayo describes her 1855 emigration from Massachusetts to Kansas Territory with her husband, Elisha Frank Mayo, and their experiences in 1855 and 1856 as homesteaders south of Lawrence in Douglas County.


  • Creation: 1855 - 1909


Conditions Governing Access

Access to fragile items at RH MS P875 requires Kenneth Spencer Library staff approval.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biography of Thankful Sophia Mayo

Thankful Sophia Mayo (later Thankful Sophia Harris) was born on March 11, 1830, at Eastham, Massachusetts to Sophia Kenrick Cobb and Elisha Freeman Cobb. In the 1800s, her father was lighthouse keeper at Billingsgate Island, which later became a shoal off the coast of Massachusetts.

In the 1850s, Thankful Cobb married Elisha Frank Mayo of Orleans, Massachusetts and, shortly after marrying, emigrated with him to Kansas Territory. Frank Mayo preceded his wife to the Territory in the spring of 1855, traveling as a member of the Emigrant Aid Society’s second party and arriving at Douglas County's Lawrence community in April. He staked a claim south of Lawrence at what was then called Blanton, or Wakarusa, where he planted crops and built a house preparatory to his wife’s arrival in September 1855.

After several years of homesteading and the birth of a son, the Mayos returned to Massachusetts in 1858 but retained their Douglas County homestead, apparently hoping to return to it. In November 1858, a daughter was born to them in Massachusetts. Thankful's husband died not long after. On December 26, 1863, Thankful Mayo married Solomon Harris at Boston. He died in 1880. In 1889, she emigrated with her son and daughter to Sonoma County, California, where they lived the remainder of their lives, and where she continued to pen journal recollections of her life in Kansas Territory and of her Cobb and Kenrick family members of Massachusetts.


1 volume (+ 1 folder) ; 33 cm

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

This journal contains the memoirs of Thankful Mayo (later Thankful Harris), including her transcriptions of several of her earlier journals and transcriptions of correspondence with her first husband, Elisha Frank Mayo, during his 1855 journey to Kansas Territory and his months of homesteading preliminary to her arrival. Frank Mayo describes his journey to the Territory, the Lawrence community upon his arrival in April 1855, and his subsequent challenges in building a home and establishing crops.

On the journal's initial pages are Thankful Mayo's transcriptions of the journal that she kept while traveling from Massachusetts to join him in the fall of 1855. Subsequent entries contain her recollections of their lives as homesteaders later that year and in early 1856--penned by her in reminiscences and transcriptions dating to the 1880s. With her transcriptions of Frank Mayo's letters is his hand-drawn map (at journal leaf 27) of their Douglas County claim and those of surrounding landowners. Included in Thankful Mayo's journal is her transcription of the 1889 journal that she kept on her steamship voyage from Massachusetts to California, as well as recollections and genealogical accounts of her Cobb and Kenrick ancestors of Massachusetts, together with related news clippings, hymns, songs, and poems.

Thankful Mayo's writing and memorabilia appear on 140 of the journal's 270 leaves. The first 55 are numbered. Dates of some of her journal entries are non-sequential, and the content is often retrospective, incorporating quotations from journals kept by her in earlier years. Journal entries on her birthdays are noted by her at ages 55, 60, and 63. On the journal's final leaf is her 1888 transcription of a poem--an ode to her years in Kansas Territory--written by her at Boston on February 21, 1860, shortly after the death of Frank Mayo. Items found laid in the journal and separated from it for safe housing are at RH MS P875.

Physical Location

RH MS E191

Physical Location

RH MS P875

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, Barry Cassidy Rare Books, 1988.

Guide to the Thankful Sophia Mayo Journal
Thankful Sophia Mayo journal
Finding aid prepared by mh, 2004; rev. mh, 2009; Finding aid encoded by mh, 2004
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in <language encodinganalog="language">English.</language>
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Thankful Sophia Mayo journal, Kansas Collection, RH MS E191, 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