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Records of the Kansas Governor's Office : administration of Governor Lorenzo Dow Lewelling (1893-1895)

Creator: Kansas. Governor (1893-1895 : Lewelling)

Date: January 9, 1893 - January 14, 1895

Level of Description: Sub-collection/group

Material Type:

Call Number: See individual series

Unit ID: 307944

Restrictions: None.

Biographical sketch: Twelfth governor of the State of Kansas, 1893–1895, 1st Populist governor of the state; of Wichita.

Abstract: Correspondence and other items received from the administration of Lorenzo D. Lewelling, governor of the State of Kansas from 9 January 1893 to 14 January 1895. Correspondence received includes general letters, official response letters from & letters concerning State agencies, and subject files; some proclamations are also included. Subject files include applications, endorsements, & remonstrances relating to candidates for appointments to the Kansas State Normal School (Emporia) (present Emporia State University), the Kansas State Penitentiary (present Lansing Correctional Facility), judicial, & other positions; county organizational papers; and letters relating to counties, crime & criminals, justices of the peace, lands, military affairs, relief aid, the Prohibition law, and other topics. Additional records of Governor Lewelling are in separate series common to several governors including Letter press books, 1865-1905, ser. 193397; a Letter register, 1871-1895, ser. 193463; Death sentence warrants, 1872-1908, ser. 193781; a Record of death sentences, 1872-1906, ser. 193782; Prisoners In Kansas State Penitentiary, [ca. 1875-ca. 1897], ser. 193784; Miscellaneous volumes, 1885-[ca. 1929], ser. 193470; Requisitions from other states, 1886-1932, ser. 193814; a Record of pardons and commutations, 1887-1911, ser. 193793; Pardon and parole files: Womens' Industrial Farm, 1863-1919, ser. 193660; Applications for requisitions: series I & II, 1874-1953, ser. 194090; Citizenship pardons, 1876-1960, ser. 193802; and Extraditions, 1877-1994, ser. 191789.

Space Required/Quantity: 2 ft. (3 boxes)

Title (Main title): Records of the Kansas Governor's Office : administration of Governor Lorenzo Dow Lewelling (1893-1895)

Titles (Other):

  • Kansas Governor Lorenzo D. Lewelling correspondence received
  • Correspondence files
  • Records of the Kansas Governor's Office : Lorenzo Dow Lewelling administration (1893–1895)
  • Correspondence received

Part of: Records of the Kansas Governor's Office.

Language note: Text is in English.


Biog. Sketch (Full):

Lorenzo D. Lewelling, twelfth governor of the State of Kansas, was born on 21 December 1846 at Salem, Iowa. He came from a prominent family of nursery industrialists. Henderson Lewelling, the uncle of Lorenzo, was a highly skilled nurseryman whom provided southeastern Iowa with the most luscious fruit trees and vines known to the region. So popular was the Lewelling nursery enterprise that people would travel from over fifty miles away to procure some of this fine harvest. After ten years in Salem, Iowa, this “green natured” pioneer cautiously moved his nursery business via rail and animal drawn carts through the Continental Divide, and further west to Oregon. Mr. Lewelling’s entrepreneurial spirit fostered a new foundation for perhaps the finest fruit tree industry in the entire Pacific Northwest of the time.

The Lewelling families were members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) and staunch opponents of the institution of slavery. Controversy erupted in the Society of Friends in the 1830s over tactics used by Friends to oppose slavery, and the dispute affected the Lewellings. After a series of contentious debates, the Henderson Lewelling family decided to break from the established meeting and establish a congregation of more active Anti-slavery Friends.

William Lewelling, Lorenzo’s father and the older brother of Henderson, was a Baptist minister, and a powerful advocate of the anti-slavery movement. One morning in Indiana 1848, William Henderson was doing his missionary work preaching on the issue of slavery and its contentious roots. After some severe exhaustion, he became severely ill and forced to lie bedridden for many days. Soon he again took to the lecture circuit with even greater passion and again fell ill, but this time he did not recover and ultimately died from complications of pneumonia.

William Lewelling left a family of four children who were reared by his surviving widow along with a few close relatives. In 1855, Lorenzo’s mother, Beth, was tragically burned to death in a house fire, and he was then forced to take refuge with his older sister until the start of the Civil War.

Lorenzo was the youngest sibling and the one who later became known, by all who knew him, for his industrious vigor. He had a quest for learning and persistently struggled to obtain an education in his impoverished environment. However, his tenacious appetite to study and intellectually grow paid-off in the end because he eventually succeeded in becoming a teacher at Whittier College in Salem. Lorenzo Lewelling was also a veracious reader in depth on many diverse subjects. He possessed the skill of superb elocution and impersonation ability and thus was in great demand for literary entertainment venues. His closest friends had urged him to embark upon the stage; but a stage career was really unthinkable due to his rearing in the Society of Friends.

Lorenzo was educated at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and the Eastman Business College in Poughkeepsie, New York. While immersing himself in and relishing his education, he held many jobs. He was, in fact, a jack of many trades: a newspaper publisher, a carpenter, a teacher of English and math in an African American school, a railroad bridge builder, and a towpath worker on the Erie Canal.

During the Civil War, he enlisted in the Union Army, falsifying his age to be a field drummer boy in an unknown Iowa regiment. He was also assigned to the Quartermaster Corps, and he was later employed with a government bridge building corps around Chattanooga, Tennessee. He also drove cattle to quartermaster depots around the Southeast. Service in the military was contrary to the Society of Friends doctrine, and therefore, the family was able, and determined, to secure Lorenzo’s release from Army service; the fact that he was under age certainly helped the discharge process move along speedily.

Soon after the War in 1865, Lorenzo taught at an African American school under the tutelage of the Freedman’s Aid Society in Mexico, Missouri; he was also under close militia guard for reasons unknown. From there, Lorenzo returned to Salem and entered Whittier College and graduated in 1868 with a certificate in education; he became a teacher in the Iowa state reform school system. In 1870, he met and married Angeline Cook, a teacher at the girls’ correctional school in Red Oak. In 1872, he was promoted to school superintendent, and Angeline was appointed the institution’s matron.

After fourteen years of teaching and superintending the girls correctional division, Lorenzo decided to embark on a two year sabbatical. While away he founded and edited the Des Moines Capital, a staunchly “anti-ring” Republican newspaper. After his return to superintending the reform school a year later, Angelina suddenly died of natural causes leaving behind three young daughters.

In 1887, Lewelling met and married Ida Bishop, and they moved to Wichita, Kansas. In Wichita he engaged in numerous business opportunities, mostly in the banking loan and commission sector, including testing the waters of local politics. Unsatisfied with the political climate; the people’s woes; and some rather dim, nonsensical proposals, it wasn’t long before he broke with the Republican Party to become member of the Populist movement. His first real encounter with politics was as chairman of the Sedgwick County People’s Party, which had serious contempt for integrating with the Democratic Party. He was a frequent delegate to the National Congress of Charities, and became one of the directors of the Kansas State Normal School, the present Emporia State University, as well as its board president. He was also a newspaperman who was deeply submerged in the questions at hand of political and economic uncertainty.

Lorenzo rose to the occasion as the Populist Party nominated Lewelling, a pioneer in the organization of the Farmer’s Alliance, in 1892 for governor of the State of Kansas. Lewelling appeared as a private citizen at the Populist State convention held at Wichita that year. He enthusiastically welcomed the delegates to the city and presented a remarkable speech on the Populist movement. W. J. Costigan, a close friend of Lewelling, said after the convention: “Up to that hour scarcely a delegate in that convention had ever heard of him. His address stirred the convention to its inmost fiber, and within the next twenty-four hours, he was its candidate for governor.” The Democrats, so swept away with his enthusiastic muse of political enlightenment, endorsed his candidacy for governor.”

Lorenzo Lewelling was elected, barely, with only 162,507 votes to Republican contender A. W. Smith’s 158,075 votes and sworn in as governor on 9 January 1893. Governor Lewelling believed that his administration was the first “People’s Party government on earth,” and he practiced the party line right down to residing at the Dutton Hotel for its one-dollar a day rates rather then staying at the pricey Copeland Residence used by his predecessors. His most significant accomplishments in his first, and only, term as governor, was the sanctioning of the Australian ballot, the secret ballot process originating in Australia around 1854; an 18 month compensation allowance on mortgages; successfully negotiating a major coal strike debacle; and the much challenged appointment of Mary Elizabeth Lease as superintendent of the State Board of Charities.

The Populist governor’s sympathy for jobless men wandering the streets in the 1890s gave rise to vagabond respect. Lewelling defended the rights of the unemployed. The governor’s executive proclamation of 4 December 1893 defends the rights of the unemployed and hungry and further prohibits against arbitrary arrest by local militia. The proclamation, published in the Topeka Daily Capital became known as the “Tramp Circular.” After all, Lorenzo was once himself wandering the streets of Salem in search of employment during the 1870s depression. He said during a trumpeted speech that “thousands of men, guilty of no crime but that of seeking employment, have languished in the city prisons of Kansas, have performed unrequited toil in ‘rock-piles’ as municipal slaves, because ignorance of economic conditions has made us cruel.”

Governor Lewelling became chief of state during an unorthodox circumstance in early 1893. The Populist Party was predominantly in control of the State of Kansas, but the House of Representatives was claimed by both the Populists and the Republicans. Lewelling of course only recognized the Populist faction, and that flamed an already contentious situation that became known as the “Legislative war.”

On 16 February 1893 the governor issued Executive Order No. 3 to Colonel A. Hughes, the Topeka militia commander. He ordered him to clear the Statehouse of all Republican legislators and to forcibly remove anyone who did not comply. The legislative war of 1893 pitted the Republican (Douglass) House against the Populist (Dunsmore) House and both claimed to be the legally elected House of Representatives for the State of Kansas. On the morning of February 13 the Populist Party barricaded themselves in Representative Hall preventing the Republican legislators from coming into the chamber. The angered Republicans then beat down the doors with sledgehammers and took possession of the House and posted guards outside the door. But Colonel Hughes was a Republican, and refused to obey the governor’s order; he was relieved of his command and replaced with a nonpartisan militia commander but was not reordered to clear the building. On February 25 the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the Republican House was in fact the legal representative body for the State of Kansas. Virtually no legislation passed that election year. In the end, it was Lewelling’s misfortune to comply with his pacifist Quaker upbringing, and he vacillated on the issue of asserting force upon the Legislature.

A Topeka newspaper wrote on August 5, 1893: “Lewelling, King of Kansas; virtually dictator, by the grace of the people. The State rapidly passing under Populist rule; even the schools invaded and teachers dismissed for opposing the dominant party; military companies disbanded to make room for Populist recruits; control of the courts expected soon.”

At the end of his term in 1894, the Populist platform was heavily supportive of women’s suffrage legislation that alienated Democratic support, and because of that, together with the stormy opening days of Lewelling’s administration, he was defeated by Edmund N. Morrill, a Republican. Lewelling, with his wife, returned to Wichita and operated a dairy farm and creamery business; afterward he became a land company manager and a traveling lecturer for an insurance group. He was also elected on a fusion Populist - Democratic ticket to the State Senate in 1896. In Lewelling’s final years he was a member of the State Railway Commission, and he worked as a land agent for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway until his death in 1900.

He died of cardiac arrest on 3 September 1900, at Arkansas City, Kansas, and was buried in Maple Grove Cemetery on the outskirts of Wichita.

Administrative History

Administrative History:

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 the governor 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.
No formal qualifications for the governor have been legislated, aside from the provision that no member of Congress or officer of the State or United States can serve. The governor is elected by a plurality, not necessarily a majority of votes cast. The governor takes office the second Monday in January following election. He was authorized to hire a private secretary, pardon attorney, and other staff as appropriations permitted.

At the beginning of Lorenzo Lewelling’s term, the governor had the power to appoint Militia officers; members of part - time boards of directors, trustees, or regents of the State Penitentiary (now Lansing Correctional Facility), schools of higher education, the State insane asylum (now Osawatomie State Hospital), and schools for deaf and blind students; a Board of Visitors for the State Agricultural College (now Kansas State University); the Bureau of Immigration; the Commission for Care of Destitute Orphans and Children of State Soldiers; the State librarian; the superintendent of insurance; and a number of minor commissions. He was also an ex officio member of the State Board of Canvassers, boards of directors of the Agricultural College and Normal School, the Bureau of Immigration, the Board of Treasury Examiners, and other committees.

Scope and Content

Scope and content:

The records of the Governor Lorenzo Lewelling administration consist of one series of Correspondence Files, 1893 - 1895, series 193421, containing ninety-six folders.

Items in the series are primarily letters received by Governor Lewelling, however there may also be proclamations and some petitions, reports, copies of letters sent, and other types of documents. The letters and proclamations are organized into three sub-series: (1) Alphabetical (General) File, (2) State Agencies and Departments File, and (3) Subject Files.

Documents that may have been addressed to Governor Lewelling but dated or pertaining to the time period after his term expired in 1895 may be filed with the records of his successor, Governor Edmund N. Morrill

A more complete list of contents by folder is in the Summary: Detailed Description of the Records section of the record for the Correspondence Files: http://www.kshs.org/archives/193421 . A detailed description of each sub-series is there as well.

Selected records from Governor Lewelling's administration have been posted on Kansas Memory, the Kansas Historical Society's digital archives. These can be found at http://www.kansasmemory.org/locate.php?categories=4894-4796-6522&

A number of series of records of the Governor's Office, while not specific to this administration, contain information from Governor Lewelling's time in office.

The series Executive Record (Official Record), 1861 – 1879, #195968, provides chronological summaries of the Governor’s official actions, including in some cases summaries of communications sent. Pages 301 – 403 of the Executive Record (Official Record) contain information about documents created and actions taken during the Lewelling administration.

Some of the files in the series Pardon and Parole Files: 1863 – 1919, #193660, are from the Lewelling administration. The records are arranged alphabetically by inmates’ names, so identifying records for this period would require looking at each file and determining its date. There are restrictions on access to these records.

Letter Press Books, 1865 – 1904, Series 193397, contain copies of letters and telegrams sent. Recipients included citizens of Kansas and other States, other elected officials, heads of State institutions and departments, the adjutant general, members of the Kansas congressional delegation, other governors, members of the Legislature, railroad officials, newspaper editors, military officers, local officials, and the president and vice president. Topics addressed included State institutions, departments, and programs; appointments; events; counties, investigations; the cattle trade; land; claims; the military; State funds; immigration; Native American issues; laws and legislation, pardons; and other topics mirroring letters received by governors. Secretaries and other staff wrote some of the letters. Some volumes have alphabetical indexes by recipient and subject.

Entries in the Letter Register, 1871 – 1895, Series 193463, for individual letters received contain the dates the letter was written and received, the name and city of the writer, and a brief summary of the contents. There is an alphabetical index at the front of each volume.

A Record of Death Sentences, 1872 – 1906, Series 193782, begins with an alphabetical index and then initially lists the convicted, the court and county, the date convicted, whose murder they were found guilty of, and the date of the warrant and of the filing. Remarks are usually referenced to a later page. The format quickly switches out of list form and devotes pages to each condemned person in turn. While the same information is usually covered, the jury’s verdict and other related documents that may be found in Death Sentence Warrants, Series 193781, are usually handwritten onto these pages.

County Organization Censuses, circa 1873 – circa 1886, Series 193451, were taken to determine if a proposed county had sufficient population to organize a county government. Entries contain number of householders, ages, and number of acres under cultivation. Some also contain gender, number of voters, number of schoolchildren and location. They are arranged alphabetically by the name of the county.

A volume of Prisoners in Kansas State Penitentiary, circa 1875 – circa 1897, Series 193784, contains information about inmates such as name, county, date of sentence, crime, and term of sentence. The first letter of the inmate’s last name arranges entries.

Citizenship Pardons, 1876 – 1960, Series 193802, are declarations of pardon, which contain information about the crime committed and the date of the pardon.

Records of other offices of Kansas’ government — particularly the secretary of State, Record Group 622, and attorney general, Record Group 82 — 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 Kansas State Historical Society, may also offer insights about Kansas politics and government during the Lewelling administration.

The Kansas State Historical Society has a one - folder ("miscellaneous") collection of Lewelling's personal papers, 1893 December 5. These are described at http://www.kshs.org/archives/42606


Records specific to this administration:

Records including this administration:

Portions of Collection Separately Described:


No Locators Identified

Related Records or Collections

Associated materials: Lewelling, Lorenzo Dow. Autobiographical Sketch; Executive Circular to Metropolitan Police Commissioners, 1893 Dec. 4. Lorenzo Dow Lewelling misc. ms. collection. http://www.kshs.org/archives/42606

Related materials: Records of the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, Record Group 82
Records of the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office, Record Group 622


Finding Aid Bibliography:

Drury, James W. The Government of Kansas. 3d ed. Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, ©1980. Available in the Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS) Reference Room: call no. K 350.7 D845 1980.

Harder, Marvin A. The Governor of Kansas: An Analysis of Decision-Making Opportunities, Constraints, and Resources. Topeka, Kans.: Capitol Complex Center, University of Kansas, 1981, ©1982. Available in the KSHS Reference Room: call no. SP 378 Z C172 pam.v.1 no. 1.

Kansas Biographical Dictionary: People of All Times and Places Who Have Been Important to the History and Life of the State. New York, N.Y.: Somerset Publishers, © 1994. Available in the KSHS Reference Room: call no. K BB K13s.

Ross, Edith Connelley. "Lorenzo Dow Lewelling," 1918 Kansas and Kansans, chap. 58, pt. 1, Kansas GenWeb website; http://skyways.lib.ks.us/genweb/archives/1918ks/v2/ch58p1.html (viewed 4 June 2014).

Socolofsky, Homer E. Kansas Governors. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, ©1990. Available in the KSHS Reference Room: call no. K BB So13.

Index Terms


    Kansas. Governor (1893-1895 : Lewelling) -- Archives
    Kansas. Governor (1893-1895 : Lewelling) -- Records and correspondence
    Populist Party (Kan.)
    Kansas -- Military policy
    Kansas -- Officials and employees -- Selection and appointment
    Kansas -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950
    Lewelling, Lorenzo Dow, 1846-1900
    Governors -- Kansas -- Archives
    African Americans -- Migrations
    Civil-military relations -- Kansas
    County government -- Kansas
    Government correspondence -- Kansas
    Justices of the peace -- Kansas
    Prohibition -- Kansas
    Public institutions -- Kansas
    Public lands -- Kansas
    Public records -- Kansas
    Public welfare -- Kansas
    Soldiers -- Kansas
    State-local relations -- Kansas

Creators and Contributors

Agency Classification:

    Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Main Office.
    Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Specific Administrations. Lewelling, Lorenzo Administration.
    Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Main Office. Pardon and Extradition Attorney.

Additional Information for Researchers

Restrictions: None.

Use and reproduction: Notice: This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). 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.

Add'l physical form: Selected items: Also available on Kansas Memory, electronic resource. Topeka, Kan. : Kansas State Historical Society, c2007-14; http://www.kansasmemory.org/locate.php?categories=4894-4796-6522&

Cite as:

Note: [document, folder, subseries, or series description], Lewelling administration (1893– 1895), records of the Kansas Governor’s Office, State archives record group 252, Library and Archives Division, Kansas State Historical Society.

Bibliography: Kansas, Governor’s Office, Lewelling administration (1893–1895). Records, 1893– 1895. State archives record group 252, Library and Archives Division, Kansas State Historical Society.

Action note: Inventory written by David F. Manning, volunteer, 2008.

Accumulation/Freq. Of Use: No additional records are expected.

Holder of originals: Kansas State Historical Society (Topeka).