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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bowie-Knife Fighter: David "Buckskin" Evans

The following excerpt is from John Speer's Bloody Kansas: Life of Gen. James H. Lane (1896), a chronicle of the violent period when settlers fought over whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state. It tells the tale of David "Buckskin" Evans, an anti-slavery fighter of the rough-and-tumble school:
In the troubles of 1855, Messrs. Wemple and William Ross, brother-in-law and brother of Ex-Senator Ross, brought to Lawrence, from Shelby county, Missouri, a free colored man, with all his certificates of freedom regularly certified and sealed by the officers of the proper court, and a white Missourian named David Evans, as farm hands. Evans was a Free-State man of very marked characteristics.

The Pro-Slavery men expressed doubts about the freedom of Jonas, the negro and wanted to investigate "the nigger-thieves." Dave took it up, and armed to the teeth with bowie-knives and revolvers, drove them off.

Lane heard of him and his prowess, and hired him for fifteen dollars a month "just to stand around and accommodate ruffians spoiling for a fight." He was known as Buckskin, because he wore a buckskin suit, and he was ready for a fight either "fist and skull, or with the cold steel and malleable iron."

His first job of "fist and skull" was on Luke Corlew, a noted bully, whom he pounded terribly, tore his clothes from him, and ran him, half-naked, out of the town. They gave Buckskin a wide berth after that -- shied away from him; and for a long time, he was a terror to all of them.

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