They’re not joking…

There have been a number of comments and theories about what the true intent of Osceola , Missouri’s recent “Jayhawk” resolution.  The latest comes from the Marker Hunter blog, who thinks it is all one big joke. It isn’t.

Our history is written in “Blue Ink” and many of the atrocities committed in Missouri were covered up so that the good citizens of Lawrence , Ks could claim the victim status when Missourians fighting under Quantrill were finally pushed past their breaking point and decided to raid the epicenter of Jayhawker activity.

What exactly is a “Jayhawk”? Author Donald Gilmore offers us this explanation:

As usual the KU folks extensively glamorized the meaning of the Jayhawkers. Page 90 of my book describes the real origin of the term Jayhawking: “The term Jayhawking is said to have originated with the activities of a maraudeer named Pat Devlin who, when he rode into Linn County ond day loaded with plunder from Missouri, was asked where he obtained it. He said he ‘Jayhawked’ it. When asked what that meant, he explained that in Ireland, his homeland, there was a bird that ‘worries its prey before he devours it [kills it]. He claimed that’s what he was doing.” Others believed Jayhawking was “a fancy name for horse stealing.”

Historian Hildegarde Herklotz defines the term more precisely (Page 91): “referring to it as a species of land privateering or political freebooting. The Jayhawkers banded together and galloped over the country, appropriating horses, cattle, farming implements, guns, and in short,whatever came their way. They claimed that they never robbed or hung anyone who entertained the same political organization as themselves.” Jayhawker, in fact, were often indiscriminate robbers and murderers, especially in Missouri after the outset of the Civil War.

Source: Donald L. Gilmore, Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border (Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Co., 2005), 90-91, footnotes 15 and sixteen, chapter 5: Hildegarde Rose Herklotz, “Jayhawkers in Missouri 1858-1863,” First article, Missouri Historical Review 17, no. 3 (1923): 267, 268, 270; Council Grove Press, November 30, 1863.

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