Common Cents  LbNA # 12502

OwnerWhat If? Why Not!      
Placed DateDec 2 2004
CountyDouglas
Location?, KS
Boxes1
Found ByLittle Chief
Last UpdateMay 11 2005

Clues

A Consideration: Business hours will affect the availability of this letterbox.

Jake Warley had reasoned that it made perfect sense to leave Massachusetts and head southwest to the Kansas Territory. Northern abolitionists had offered to fund such a move after the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed. All he and several thousand other settlers had to do was agree to vote to make Kansas a free state. Little did Jake dream he was moving his family into the middle of a bloodbath!

After staying briefly at the Eldridge Hotel, Jake and his family had moved southwest, into a small place which had been abandoned by less-hardy folk. Jake wondered what sense there was in that family’s giving up and leaving so quickly. But then, when Jake’s free-soil community was raided in May of 1856 by a band of Border Ruffians from Missouri, he had wondered if it made any sense to stay. Was there anything that would make it worth staying?

However, by the time a group of John Brown’s abolitionists had retaliated against the May raid, attacking a small proslavery settlement on Pottawatomie Creek, Jake knew the answer. He figured the answer was just a matter of common sense: Freedom! The hope of freedom for all who lived in this new place! So, Jake stayed put.

By 1859 the eyes of the whole nation were on Kansas--how the issues were resolved there would impact the direction the whole nation would take on slavery. Jake wondered if his friend, Steven, thought things would soon quiet down. Steven had a broader view of the issue. He had Kansas coin connections which allowed him to house government-issue coins. He picked up the latest news each time coins were delivered.

On a crisp day in the fall of that year, Jake spent time with his friends at the Eldridge Hotel--drinking the thickly brewed coffee and listening to the growing agitation in the men’s comments. He checked his pocket watch--Yes, Steven would still be in his shop. He walked at a heading of 180 degrees for two blocks and then altered his course to a heading of 270 degrees. As Jake walked to see his friend from Illinois, he stuffed his hands in his pockets to warm them. To his surprise, he pulled out one of the new, common cents--an Indian-head penny. He shook his head at the irony--where was "freedom" in this place for the Indians?

When he reached the shop, he could see the owner at work behind the counter. He stepped inside and Steven looked up with a look on his face that said "Say what you want!". Jake wasted no time: "A penny for your thoughts!" And Steven reached under the counter and gave him more than his thoughts!