Home / General / Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 1,323

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 1,323

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This is the grave of David Buffum.

This is going to be a short but important one. Buffum was born in 1822 in Massachusetts. He became a strong abolitionist and advocate for a free Kansas. So he went out there. Kansas was so unbelievably violent in the 1850s. It’s no surprise that John Brown ended up here, kidnapping pro-slavery settlers and massacring them with real brutality. That’s because the pro-slavery people were if anything more violent.

So Buffum ended up in Kansas. But he really was out there to settle. He bought a farm and started improving it. He was working his field near Lawrence in 1856. A bunch of pro-slavery thugs–the so-called Kickapoo Rangers–came into his field and shot him dead after he refused to give them his horse. They shot him in the gut too, making him suffer longer.

Buffum became the anti-slavery martyr for Kansas abolitionists. As he did not die immediately, he had a chance to say some last words. Those were “I am willing to die for the cause of Freedom in Kansas.” A longer account of his words includes:

Oh, this was a most unprovoked and horrid murder! They asked me for my horses, and I plead with them not to take them. I told them that I was a cripple–a poor lame man– that I had an aged father, a deaf-and- dumb brother, and two sisters, all depending upon me for a living, and my horses were all I had with which to procure it. One of them said I was a God d—d abolitionist, and seizing me by the shoulder with one hand, he shot me with a pistol that he held in the other. I am dying; but my blood will cry to Heaven for vengeance, and this horrible deed will not go unpunished. I die a martyr to the cause of freedom, and my death will do much to aid that cause.

And there you go, a martyr was made. Again, it’s no wonder Brown wanted to kill these people.

David Buffum is buried in Pioneer Cemetery, Lawrence, Kansas. This is evidently a replacement tombstone, as the original currently is in the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka.

If you would like this series to visit other abolitionists, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Elijah Lovejoy is in Alton, Illinois and Angelina Grimké is in Boston. Previous posts in this series are archived here and here.

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