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Origin of the Name Jayhawkers

We soon learned the genealogy of the Jayhawkers. A determined effort had been made by the pro-slaverites of Missouri to force slavery upon the territory of Kansas. At every election hundreds of armed Missourians invaded the territory to control the elections for slavery. It was only by armed resistance that those invasions could be met. That armed resistance had much to do in enabling Kansas to enter the union as a free labor state. That was really the preliminary separation of the great Civil War we were now entering upon. Among those who commanded companies of home guards in that border war was C.R. Jennison. He had been one of the most active participants in the various skirmishes of 1856-1860. He and his men were known as Jayhawkers. There were various stories as to the origin of that sobriquet, but the most probable is the following. One day, when Jennison's company of home guards were in camp at Osawatama, Kansas an Irishman belonging to the company went forging. Returning with a good load of plunder he was hailed by a comrade with, "Hello, Pat, what have you been doing? " Pat answered, "We have a bird in our country called the jayhawker because it worries its prey before devouring it, and jayhawking is a good name for what I have been doing." After that Pat was called the jayhawker. Later it passed to Jennison and his whole company.

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