The Topeka Capital-Journal
Saturday, February 28, 1998

Talk to offer look at past of territory

The Capital-Journal

LECOMPTON -- Those attending the second in a series of talks on Kansas territorial history in Constitution Hall this Sunday will get a look at Col. Henry Titus -- up close and personal.

Titus and his sidekick, Col. Samuel J. Kookogey, were Mexican War veterans who joined Gen. Francisco Lopez' unsuccessful 1850-51 expedition to free Cuba from the island's Spanish masters. In the process, both earned their rank as the rebel general's lieutenants and acquired a taste for filibustering, as private military expeditions against a government were called in the 19th century.

Antonio De La Cova, professor of Latin American studies at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., will explain how, after Lopez' failure, the two came to Kansas Territory to help the South make Kansas a slave state.

Kookogey settled in Easton, while Titus settled on a farm two miles south of Lecompton. They took part in the Lecompton convention, which gave the territory its first (pro-slave) government, and Titus' fortified cabin -- known as "Fort Titus" -- was the scene of a "battle" in which Free State forces from nearby Lawrence used a small cannon to blow open the door and take the wounded Titus prisoner.

Since Kansas' territorial record consists mostly of Free State writings, little is known of Titus in the state today, and even less of Kookogey. De La Cova, a Cuban exile himself, has made a study of filibusterers and promises to fill in the gaps.

Tim Rues, curator of the Constitution Hall historic site, said the next two lectures, March 29 and April 19, will deal with militant abolitionist John Brown. The last, April 26, deals mainly with the percussion firearms used by both sides in the territorial period. All lectures are free.