William Elsey Connelley (1855-1930) Letters (KC0203)
William Elsey Connelley, the son of Contantine and Rebecca J. (McCarty) Connelley, was born in Johnson County, Kentucky on March 15, 1855. Self-educated, Connelley taught school in Johnson County between 1872 and 1880, and continued that profession after coming to Wyandotte County, Kansas, (1881-1882) before turning to other pursuits. From 1883 to 1887 he served as county clerk for Wyandotte County; between 1888 and 1892 he was in the wholesale lumber business; and in 1892 he was again in Wyandotte County associated with banking interests. The 1890s found Connelly beginning his avocation of historical research and writing. Among his most important contributions is The Provisional Government of Nebraska Territory (1899), Quantrill and the Border Wars (1909), Eastern Kentucky Papers (1910), Life of Preston Plumb (1913), a five volume History of Kansas (1917), a five volume History of Kentucky (1922) and Indian Myths (1928). At the time of the correspondence and for the remainder of his life, Connelley lived in Topeka, Kansas. William E. Connelley died on July 15, 1930.
This series of letters, written by Connelley to Franklin Benjamin Sanborn of Concord, Massachusetts, between 1900 and 1911, relates primarily to Connelley's historical research into the life of John Brown. The letters also convey information about other projects in which Connelley was involved, his candid opinions about prominent political and literary personalities in Kansas, and some insight into Connelley's personal life.
Connelley conducted his research from interviews and manuscript accounts
at a time when such materials were readily available to document the recent
history of the West. He apparently also carried on an active correspondence with
other authors and historians doing research in areas of interest to him. This is
the case with his letters to Sanborn, noted journalist and historian, and author
of a biography of John Brown (1885). During this period Connelley was actively
preparing two John Brown manuscripts: his own two volume
John Brown -- The Story of the Last of the
Puritans, published during the course of the correspondence in 1900; and a
compilation of Brown letters which he was to co-edit with a Col. Hinton,
presumed to be Richard J. Hinton (1830-1901), an associate and biographer of
Additional Connelley correspondence and research notes may be found in repositories throughout Kansas and Missouri. Most notable are the materials at the Kansas State Historical Society, the Kansas Collection at the University of Kansas, the Wyandotte County Historical Society, and the Kansas Room at the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library.
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Friday, August 08, 2008
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