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Governor Records - Carney, 1863-1865

Thomas Carney Administration
Jan. 12, 1863-Jan. 9, 1865

The records of Kansas Governor Thomas Carney consist of correspondence during his term as governor from 1863 to 1865.


This collection includes documents received during the administration of Thomas Carney, one term governor of the State of Kansas from 1863 to 1865. Subjects include appointments, bonds, schools and colleges, counties, criminal matters, slavery, the federal government, Native Americans, the Legislature, the military, settlements, public documents, Quantrill Raid relief, and the United States Sanitary Commission.

Descriptive Information

Kansas State Historical Society (Topeka)

Kansas. Governor (1863 – 1865 : Carney)

Kansas Governor Thomas Carney letters & other items received and an index to letters sent
PORTION OF TITLE: Letters & other items received and an index to letters sent
OTHER TITLES: Records of the Governor’s Office : administration of Governor Thomas Carney (1863 – 1865)
Records of the Office of the Governor of Kansas : Thomas Carney administration (1863 – 1865)

1863 – 1865

0.4 in. (24 folders)
1 v. (unpaged)

Second governor of the State of Kansas, 1863 – 1865; of Leavenworth, Kan.

Letters and other documents received during the administration of Thomas Carney, one term governor of the State of Kansas from 1863 to 1865. Subjects include appointments to public offices, the sale of bonds, State and territorial matters, college and university lands, county affairs, criminal matters, emancipation of slaves, federal government interventions, Indian affairs, legislative issues, military affairs, promotion of settlements, distribution of public documents, Quantrill Raid relief, the Kansas School for the Deaf, and the United States Sanitary Commission. Also included is an "index" (register) of letters sent by Gov. Carney, 1864, but the letters are not extant. Additional records of Governor Carney's administration are in separate series common to several governors including an Executive register (Official record), 1861-1879; an Executive register (Secretary's minutes), 1861-1864; and Pardon and Parole Files: Women’s Industrial Farm, 1863 - 1919.

Record group 252
Consult the “Description of Subordinate Components,” below, for locations and numbers of individual folders.

This finding aid describes materials held by the Kansas State Historical Society. Materials may be used in the Research Room in the society’s Center for Historical Research during regular research hours. Support for telephone, mail, and online reference and research is limited.

In a continuing effort to improve the completeness and accuracy of finding aids, revisions are made as more or new information becomes available. Consequently, there may be differences between finding aids found in the repository, on its web site, and on microfilm or other reproductions.


The Wyandotte Constitution of 1859 established the office of the governor of the State of Kansas. Some of the more important duties, functions, and responsibilities of the governor are to see that the laws are faithfully executed, to require written explanations from other executive officers — at that time the lieutenant governor, secretary of State, auditor, treasurer, attorney general, and superintendent of public instruction — upon any subject relating to their respective duties, convene the Legislature by proclamation on extraordinary occasions, communicate in writing such information as he may possess in reference to the condition of the State at the commencement of every legislative session, recommend such measures as he may deem expedient, and commission officers of the State. In 1863, the governor was authorized to appoint three members of the Board of Directors of the State Penitentiary (now the Lansing Correctional Facility), three members of the Board of Visitors of the State Agricultural College (now Kansas State University), and - with Senate confirmation - nine of thirteen regents of the Agricultural College. The following year, governors were given the power to appoint six of the ten members of the Board of Regents of the State Normal School (now Emporia State University) and, with Senate confirmation, twelve of the fifteen regents of the University of Kansas and two members of the Bureau of Immigration; the governor also served as an ex officio member of the latter board.

Thomas Carney was born 20 August 1824, near Tipton (Delaware County), Ohio. He was the son of James and Sarah Carney, farmers, and he had three brothers, one half brother, and three half sisters. He was educated in nearby Berkshire. His father, James Carney, died in 1828, leaving behind a widow and four small sons. Thomas stayed with his mother till the age of nineteen and in that time he frequently hauled products from their farm with an ox team 36 miles away to the town of Newark. He left home that same year with only $3.50 in his pocket to go live with his uncle, Elijah Carney, at Berkshire where he stayed for several months working daily for his board while attending school.

In the fall of 1844 he found gainful employment with a retail dry-goods company in Columbus, Ohio, earning 50 dollars per month and free board the first year and one hundred dollars per month and board the second year. He was later hired to work in a wholesale dry-goods house in Cincinnati and soon after was accepted as a company partner. The firm of Carney, Swift & Co. became one of the best-known non-perishable goods storage house in the country.

He married Rebecca Ann Canaday on 13 November 1851; they had five sons.

After twelve years in Cincinnati his health began to fail and, in 1857, he decided to go westward to Leavenworth, Kansas, to seek better health and find a new business opportunity. In the spring of 1858, in partnership with Thomas C. Stevens, Carney opened the first wholesale house in Leavenworth. Stevens retired in 1866, at which time the firm took the name of Carney, Fenlon & Co. Carney became the sole proprietor of the business. He also founded the wholesale shoe firm of Carney, Storer & Co., later Thomas Carney & Co. The business was sold by Carney in 1875.

Carney took an active and progressive interest in Kansas’ public affairs. In 1861, he was elected to the second State Legislature and, while in that body, served upon many important committees. After one year of legislative service Carney earned such an impeccable record for legislating he was commended to the Republican Party for governor; he was nominated for that office by a convention at Topeka on 17 September 1862. At the election of 4 November 1862, he was elected over W. R. Wagstaff by a majority of 4,627 votes and, on 12 January 1863, he was sworn into office becoming the second governor of Kansas. He was elected to the United States Senate by the Kansas Legislature in 1864, but he declined the appointment.

The steadfast and unselfish patriotism displayed by Governor Carney during his two-year term was indeed beyond reproach. He devoted all his efforts to continuing the development of a prosperous State. He personally endorsed Kansas State bonds to establish the credit of Kansas upon a firmer footing to foster national credibility. It was due to his untiring efforts that State educational and charitable institutions were established with solid credentials recognized nationwide. He firmly addressed the issues of the Civil War. Funding was desperately needed for arms and ammunition, so Carney went to New York to sell State bonds to fund these requirements. Governor Carney personally organized and financed an armed border patrol to defend the Kansas-Missouri border from Confederate renegades. The federal government ordered Carney to disband the border patrol three days before William Quantrill’s violent attack on Lawrence that left many dead.

At the end of his term as governor, he resumed the storage business that he put aside when he was inaugurated governor. In 1865 –1866, he was the mayor of Leavenworth and was one of the founders of the First National Bank of that city. For many years after he was a member of the Bank’s board of directors. He was also a director of the Kansas City, Lawrence & Fort Gibson Railroad. In addition to his mercantile, banking and railroad interests in Kansas, he was widely associated with mining operations in the Gunnison country of Colorado. At the time of election to the office of governor he was a rather wealthy man, but in later years he lost much of his money and died relatively poor.

Carney’s religious preference was Presbyterian, but he was a member of no church. He died 28 July 1888 in Leavenworth from apoplexy and was buried in Mount Muncie Cemetery there.

Scope and Contents

This section contains a description and analysis of the contents of the collection.

Governor Carney’s records consist of two series: Letters and Other Items Received, 1863 – 1865 (24 folders) (series 03411), and “Gov. Carney, Letter Index, 1864” (1 volume) (series 08881).

The Appointments file, 1863-65 (folders 1 – 9), of the Letters and Other Items Received (series 03411) contains documents and signed petitions for commissioners of deeds; a request from Cyrus K. Holliday for Governor Carney’s recommendation to Congress for appointment as governor of Dakota Territory in March of 1863; justices of the peace; military staff; miscellaneous contracting positions; Normal School directors; notaries public; the State geologist; and university regents. The file “Bonds, State of 1863 – 64” (folder 10), documents the attempt to sell, of questionable character, Kansas Territory bonds issued by Thomas Carney in 1859 to D. H. Weir of Indianapolis, Indiana, for clerical services rendered in the Territorial Assembly and repudiated by Carney. Folder 11 pertains to college and university land grants in 1863. Folder 12 is a collection of letters and petitions to appoint one sheriff and a posse of mounted militia to fend off raiding outlaws in Douglas and Franklin counties, recommend the appointment of David R. Cobb as probate judge of Bourbon County, Felix G. Hunt for register of deeds for Lyon County, and Ges W. Strawbridge for assessor of Osage County, all relating to the years 1863 and 1864. Folder 13, Criminal Matters, 1863 – 64, contains petitions for reduced prison sentences and repeals. Folder 14 is a letter of request from B. W. Lewis from Missouri, 1863, to Governor Carney asking him to allow emancipated slaves to relocate in Kansas for permanent residence and work. Folder 15 pertains to legal and federal matters relating to the military in the Civil War, identification of the dead, a request for a list of registered military volunteers of Kansas, a request from the Department of Interior to provide a list of counties comprising of several Congressional districts in numerical order, 1863 – 64. The folder State Land Acquisitions, 1863 (folder 16), pertains to the hostile retaliation of the Pawnee Indians against their enemies, the Potawatomi, for befriending and aiding white traders on the Plains. Folder 17, Legislative Affairs, 1864, documents the Senate adoption of legislation for Carney’s approval to fund a State agent position to evaluate county borders and Senate confirmations of the appointments of the Reverend Richard Cordley for regent of the State Agricultural College and Wan Dunlap for director of the State Penitentiary as well as additional Senate confirmations of appointments for general of the State Militia, State geologist and commissioner of immigration. Folder 18, Military Affairs, 1863-64, contains records of wartime military and logistical matters of supplies and reconstruction. Folder 19, Miscellaneous Affairs, 1862 – 64, relates to internal State and administrative processes. Folder 20, Promotion of Settlements, 1863 – 64, deals with acquisitions of land and settlement authority proposed by the Senate to allow acquisition companies to regulate settlements in the State of Kansas. Folder 21 contains public documents of 1864. Folder 22, Quantrill Raid Relief Enactment, 1863-64, relates to those affected in the Raid. Folder 23, School for the Deaf; 1863, contains the school superintendent’s request to borrow money from the State to supplement the treasurer’s allocation to fund School operations. The last file, folder 24, contains documents on the agenda of the United States Sanitary Commission’s Metropolitan Fair in New York City, 1864.

The second series — “Governor Carney, Letter Index, 1864” (series 08881) — appears to be a register, with entries arranged alphabetically by the first letter of recipients’ surnames, of letters sent by the Governor and what appear to be page numbers in a volume. No volume of letters sent by Governor Carney has been located in the State archives.

These records show evidence of an evolutionary process of a new State in an attempt to establish a firm body of organized government and laws that its Legislature and citizens can support. The documents are scattered and piecemeal but do demonstrate legislative action, address litigation, and document selecting and confirming State appointments, largely via favoritism.

With the exception of a few outgoing letters found in this series, there are no copies of letters Governor Carney sent. The series Executive Record (Official Record) (no. 05968) and Executive Record (Secretary’s Minutes) (no. 03458) provide chronological summaries of the Governor’s official actions, including in some cases summaries of communications sent. These series contain records of a number of governors. Folders 3 – 5 of the Executive Record (Secretary’s Minutes) and pages 70 – 168 of the Executive Record (Official Record) contain information about documents created during Carney’s tenure.

The microfilmed Thomas Carney Papers, June – Sept. 1863, microfilm MS 888.02, contain primarily duplicates or drafts of official letters sent by Governor Carney to federal officials relating to Major General James Blunt, describing the situation in Kansas and damage done by Confederate raiders, stating what he think needs to be done, requesting additional troops to protect the State, and conferring military commissions. The letters are addressed to President Abraham Lincoln; Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton; Major General John McAllister Schofield, commander of the United States Army’s Department of the Missouri; and others.

The Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS) does not have a collection of Thomas Carney’s personal papers. His correspondence, both letters sent and received, appears in several Society manuscript collections: Thomas C. Stevens, 1861 – 1864, manuscript collection no. (MC) 510; James L. McDowell, 1861 – 1871, MC 425; S. N. Wood, 1860 – 1866, microfilm MS 1117 – MS 1118; and Eugene Fitch Ware, 1883 – 1884, MC 86. Many of Governor Carney's letters, not found in his administration records, are in the Stevens collection. The Wood collection on microfilm may be borrowed through interlibrary loan.

Collections of Carney’s papers, 1862 – 1865 and 1874, and those of his sons Charles Thomas and Edwin LeRoy are at the Kansas Collection, University of Kansas libraries; on-line finding aids are at http://ead.diglib.ku.edu/alist.html#C. Some of the letters in the University’s Thomas Carney collection have been reproduced on Kansas State Historical Society microfilm MS 888.02.

Records of other offices of Kansas government, particularly the secretary of State and attorney general, will give additional information about State activities during this period. Papers of other prominent political figures of the time, most of which are held by the KSHS, may also offer insights about Kansas politics and government during the Carney administration. Additional information on the Kansas military effort may be found in the records of the Adjutant General’s Office, record group 34 in the Society’s State archives holdings; the Military history manuscript collection, no. 617; and personal papers of individual officers and soldiers in the manuscripts collection.


This section describes the order in which the collection’s contents have been placed.

Organized so that the Letters and Other Items Received, 1863 – 1865, precede “Governor Carney, Letter Index, 1864.”

Contents: ser. 03411. Letters and other items received, 1863-1865 —ser. 08881. Governor Carney, letter index, 1864.

Adjunct Descriptive Data

This section includes lists of sources used in the preparation of this finding aid, collections on similar subjects that may be of interest to researchers, items cataloged separately, and items removed from the collection.

Related Materials
Military history collection: MS. collection no. 617
Records of the Kansas Adjutant General’s Office: record group 34
Records of the Kansas Attorney General’s Office: record group 82
Records of the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office: record group 622

Other Finding Aid
Copies of this finding aid are available in the Research Room of the Center for Historical Research and on its web site, http://www.kshs.org.

Socolofsky, Homer E. Kansas Governors. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, ©1990. Call no. K BB So13; available in the Kansas State Historical Society Research Room.

Controlled Access Headings

The terms listed below may include names, places, subjects, occupations, titles, and other words describing this collection. These terms are used in the ATLAS catalog used by the Kansas State Historical Society and affiliated libraries in Topeka, http://lib.wuacc.edu/search, as well as libraries and archives subscribing to OCLC, a national library/archives database. Searches on these words should produce a description of this collection as well as other books and collections that may be of interest. Names are subjects unless noted otherwise. Topical terms are Library of Congress subject headings unless indicated otherwise.

Personal Names

Carney, Thomas, 1824-1888.
Carney, Thomas, 1824-1888. (co-creator)
Quantrill, William Clarke, 1837-1865.

Corporate Names
Kansas. Governor (1863-1865 : Carney)–Archives.
Kansas. Legislature. 1861-1863.
Kansas. State Geologist.
Kansas State Normal School.
Kansas State School for the Deaf.
Metropolitan Fair (1864 : New York)
United States Sanitary Commission.
University of Kansas. Board of Regents.

Geographic Names
Kansas–Capital and capitol.
Kansas–History–Civil War, 1861-1865.
Kansas–History–Civil War, 1861-1865–Civilian relief.
Kansas–Military policy.
Kansas–Officials and employees.
Kansas–Politics and government–1861-1865.
Missouri–Politics and government–1861-1865.
United States–Officials and employees.
United States–Politics and government–1861-1865.

African Americans–Kansas.
City promotion–Kansas.
Civil-military relations–Kansas.
Criminal justice, Administration of–Kansas.
Commissioners of deeds–Selection and appointment–Kansas.
Federal government–Kansas.
Federal government–United States.
Finance, Public–Kansas.
Indians of North America–Government relations–1789-1869.
Indians of North America–Kansas.
Interstate controversies–Kansas.
Interstate controversies–Missouri.
Judges–Selection and appointment–Kansas.
Justices of the peace–Selection and appointment–Kansas.
Notaries–Selection and appointment–Kansas.
Patronage, Political–Kansas.
Public lands–Kansas.
Quantrill’s Raid (Lawrence, Kan.), 1863 (local)
School lands–Kansas.
State bonds–Kansas.
State government publications–Kansas.
State-local relations–Kansas.

Minutes. (Art and Architecture Thesaurus)
Speeches, addresses, etc., American–Kansas.
Public records–Kansas.


Administrative Information

This section provides more detailed information about this collection that may be helpful to those wishing to use it, including its history, restrictions, copyright information, other formats, and a suggested citation form.

Restrictions on Access

Restrictions on Use
Notice: This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). The user is cautioned that the publication of the contents of this microfilm may be construed as constituting a violation of literary property rights. These rights derive from the principle of common law, affirmed in the copyright law of 1976 as amended, that the writer of an unpublished letter or other manuscript has the sole right to publish the contents thereof unless he or she affirmatively parts with that right; the right descends to his or her legal heirs regardless of the ownership of the physical manuscript itself. It is the responsibility of a user or his or her publisher to secure the permission of the owner of literary property rights in unpublished writing.

Most documents created by governmental entities, including the State of Kansas, are considered in the public domain, although copyright to documents found in public records that were written by individuals or organizations and sent to government agencies may be owned by the writers or their heirs.

Preferred Citation
Note: [document description and/or series], Carney administration (1863 –1865), records of the Kansas Governor’s Office, State archives record group 252, Library and Archives Division, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka.
Bibliography: Kansas, Governor’s Office, Carney administration (1863 – 1865), State archives record group 252. Letters & Other Items Received and Index to Letters Sent, 1863 – 1865. Library and Archives Division, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka.

Acquisition Information
Transfer: Office of the Governor, date unknown.

Processing Information
Inventory written by David F. Manning, volunteer, 2004.

Description of Subordinate Components

Archival records are typically organized by series, a group of records that has a common element or function and a distinct organizational structure of its own, for example Correspondence Files, arranged chronologically, or Registers of Military Enlistments, arranged by regiment.

To request records, specify the series and folder or volume desired.

Series 03411. Letters And Other Items Received, 1863 – 1865. 0.4 ft. (24 folders in 1 box). 027-03-06-04

Letters and other documents received concerning the appointments of justices of the peace, commissioners of deeds, federal & military personnel, miscellaneous support staff, normal school directors, notaries public, the State geologist, and university regents; State & territorial bonds, the sale of college & university lands, county affairs, criminal cases, a proposal to move freed Missouri slaves to Kansas, federal affairs, Native Americans, the Legislature, military matters, promotion of settlements, distribution of public documents, relief for victims of William Quantrill’s raids, the Kansas School for the Deaf (Olathe), and the U.S. Sanitary Commission’s Metropolitan Fair (New York City, 1864).

folder 1: Appointments: Commissioners of deeds, 1863 - 1864
folder 2: Appointments: Federal, 1863
folder 3: Appointments: Justices of the peace, 1863 - 1864
folder 4: Appointments: Military, 1863 - 1864
folder 5: Appointments: Miscellaneous [sic], 1863 - 1864
folder 6: Appointments: Normal school directors, 1864
folder 7: Appointments: Notaries public, 1863 - 1864
folder 8: Appointments: State geologist, 1864
folder 9: Appointments: University regents, 1864
folder 10: Bonds, State and territorial, 1864 - 1864
folder 11: College and university lands, 1863
folder 12: County affairs, 1863 - 1865
folder 13: Criminal matters, 1863 - 1864
folder 14: Emancipation of slaves, 1863
folder 15: Federal government, 1863 - 1864
folder 16: Indians, 1863
folder 17: Legislature, 1864
folder 18: Military affairs, 1863 - 1864
folder 19: Miscellaneous [sic], 1862 - 1864
folder 20: Promotion of settlement, 1863 - 1864
folder 21: Public documents, 1864
folder 22: Quantrill Raid relief, 1863 - 1864
folder 23: School for the Deaf, 1863
folder 24: U.S. Sanitary Commission Fair, 1864

Series 08881. Governor Carney, Letter Index, 1864. 1 v. (unpaged). 028-03-08-05

Register, with entries arranged alphabetically by the first letter of recipients’ surnames, of letters sent by the Governor and what appear to be page numbers in a volume. The location of the volume to which this index refers is unknown.

Other State Archives records series containing records of the Carney administration:

Series 05968. Executive Record (Secretary Minutes), 1861-1879. 3 folders in 1 box. 028-03-05-05

folder 3: Jan. 12 - 16, 1863
folder 4: Jan. 21 - Nov. 25, 1863
folder 5: 1864

Series 03458. Executive Record (Official Record) , 1861 – 1879. partial v. (p. 70 – 168). 024-13-10-01

vol.1, pp. 70 – 168, 1863 – 1865

Papers, June – Sept. 1863. 12 items. Microfilm MS 888.02

Duplicates or drafts of official letters sent by Governor Carney to federal officials relating to Major General James Blunt, describing the situation in Kansas & damage done by Confederate raiders, stating what he think needs to be done, requesting additional troops to protect the State, and conferring military commissions. The letters are addressed to President Abraham Lincoln; Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton; Major General John McAllister Schofield, commander of the United States Army’s Department of the Missouri; and others.
Arranged generally chronologically.
Originals of some letters at the Kansas Collection, University of Kansas libraries (Lawrence).

Series 03660. Pardon and Parole Files: Women’s Industrial Farm, 1863 - 1919. 63 ft. (151 boxes). ACCESS RESTRICTED. 032-01-02-01 thru 032-03-07-04

Contains letters requesting opinions on parole, Parole Board verdict or certificate, and a prisoner history. Interfiled with Pardon and Parole Files for the Kansas State Industrial Reformatory, 1927-1945 (series 03659) and Parole Certificates Issued by the Coffeyville City Court, 1932-1936 (series 03661), as part of Subseries I, 63 ft. (151 boxes), 1863-1919, arranged alphabetically. Women are only contained in Subseries I; after 1919 women’s files are arranged separately as series 06304, Pardon and Parole of Female Inmates.
Arranged alphabetically by inmates’ names.

Photo: Thomas Carney, undated. KSHS (B Carney, Thomas *2)