In 1964, Miss Ella Carroll donated the beautiful sixteen- room Victorian mansion at 1128 Fifth Avenue to the Leavenworth County Historical Society in memory of her father, Edward C. Carroll. The Carroll family had resided in this house, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, for 77 years, from December 1887 to June 1964, when, Ella, the last Carroll family member in residence, made the donation to the Society for use as a museum. Now, nearly fifty years later, the house will come alive with memories of the Edward Carroll family with an exhibit, to be highlighted during the 22nd annual Candlelight Vintage Homes Tour on Sunday, December 8th, from 1 pm to 7pm.
The Carroll family has long maintained a significant presence in Leavenworth, having first come to reside here well before Kansas became a state. Edward C. Carroll was the youngest child of Edward and Bridget Murray Carroll, who immigrated from Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, Ireland, to the U.S., first settling in New York and then Chicago, Illinois, before coming to Kansas Territory in the mid to late 1850s.
Carroll family descendants note known siblings of Edward to be Peter, Thomas, Ann, Bridget, and Mary Carroll. While Cutler’s History of Kansas, census lists, and an obituary confirm the presence of Peter Carroll here in Leavenworth, little is known about Thomas, Ann, and Bridget. An intriguing story however surrounds their sister, Mary A. Carroll, who was introduced to her future husband, Casper Hawickholst, by her younger brother Edward, following their chance encounter during the Indian wars in Texas and New Mexico, in the 1850s.
As the story goes, in his bachelor years, Mr. Hawickholst, having been struck by an arrow in his shoulder during a fight with the Indians, rescued a young man who was on the ground and in great danger. Pulling him onto his own horse and “hightailing it out of the slaughter”, Casper thusly saved young Edward Carroll from a certain death. A grateful Edward took him to Leavenworth to meet his family. As a result, Mary Carroll and Casper Hawickholst were married May 1, 1856, by the new Catholic Bishop, John B. Miege who had located to Leavenworth the previous year.
Josephine Hawickholst Middlekauff, one of three daughters born to Mary and Casper Hawickholst in Leavenworth, was raised in Hays City, Kansas, from the early days of its founding, when she and her parents relocated there. She watched frontier scouts, wagon trains, Indians and settlers come and go as Hays emerged from its infancy in 1867 to become a thriving town. Often, her childhood memories of life on the Kansas frontier were seen in print, from western Kansas newspapers to several pages in Joanna L. Stratton’s “Pioneer Women: Voices from the Kansas Frontier”, a collection of autobiographical accounts written by hundreds of pioneer women, published in 1981.
An older brother of Edward Carroll, Peter Carroll was a builder and contractor in the firm of Carroll & Reagan and helped construct many buildings in Leavenworth and at the Fort. He was active in public affairs holding the office of city commissioner, police judge and was a candidate for mayor. He married Bridget Malloy in 1865. After six children were born, Bridget died in 1877. With his second wife, Mary Remington Atkin, he had three additional children. Young people of the city eagerly listened to Peter’s descriptive stories of the early days of Leavenworth.
Other than accounts shared by Josephine Hawickholst Middlekauff of Hays City, little information has yet to be uncovered about the early days in the young life of Edward Carroll prior to his residence in Leavenworth. His obituary stated that he came here in 1859, in the border warfare days, following the move of one of his sisters. It is known with certainty that Edward was employed by W.C. Lobenstine, who located here in 1857, conducting a large wholesale establishment for handling hides and furs. The 1860 Leavenworth City Directory placed Edward as a boarder at the Washington House, operated by his brother-in-law, Casper Hawickholst. In 1862 Peter Carroll and Thomas Carroll also boarded at the Washington House. Edward eventually became clerk of the city of Leavenworth. Under the administration of President Andrew Johnson, Edward, at the age of 23, was appointed collector of internal revenue.
Later Ed Carroll served as clerk of the district court under Justice David Brewer, who was then judge of the Leavenworth County District Court and later U.S. Supreme Court Justice. During this time, Edward boarded at the Planter’s House and was listed as a boarder in 1872 and employed as a bookkeeper for W.C. Lobenstine.
In politics, Edward Carroll was described as an independent Democrat and became a delegate to four consecutive national conventions, elected to the lower house of the state legislature, serving three terms, and four years in the state senate. After his marriage to Mary Ellen Ann Hunt, only daughter of the Col. F.E. Hunt, Edward engaged in the wholesale grocery business in Kansas City with his residence in Leavenworth, at 418 Osage Street. After the Leavenworth National Bank was organized in 1885, he became cashier, a position he held until 1913, when he was elected president of the bank to succeed the late Paul E. Havens.
By 1887, an issue in Leavenworth was female suffrage as was the enforcement of the prohibition act of 1881. The Leavenworth City Directory of that year recalled that it had been a mere thirty-three years since the site of Leavenworth was “dotted over with only stakes for town lots, and hazel brush marked the now busy line of cedar paved Delaware street.” Immense coal beds underneath Leavenworth were providing cheap fuel which, in turn, brought factories and railroad facilities. The Santa Fe Depot was built here in 1887 as a passenger and freight depot. The working man could live better and cheaper and raise a healthier family in Leavenworth. An investment in land in the county was highly profitable.
The Edward Carroll family had resided at 617 N. 6th Street since the early 1880s. But it was in December, 1887, that Edward Carroll purchased the grand house, then listed as 334 Fifth Avenue, from Lucien Scott and his wife Julia. Scott was considered one of the wealthiest men in Kansas then and was president of the First National Bank of Leavenworth. Carroll and his wife had just lost their beloved 8 month-old son, Charles Agricola in July. The remaining six Carroll children, three girls and three boys, ranging in ages from four to fourteen, easily filled the spacious rooms of the Victorian mansion.
Following the death of Carroll’s first wife, he retired from politics, having described himself as “the lone bird of my own party…I was the only Democrat in the Senate.” When Ed Carroll died, at the age of 75, in 1917, D.R. Anthony, Jr., then publisher and editor of the Leavenworth Times, remarked that “no man ever served…more conscientiously or with greater intelligence. And with it all Mr. Carroll had a kind heart, inherited from his Irish ancestors. . . . Few have been held in so great esteem in Kansas as Ed Carroll.” From all indications, through news articles and the few family papers and memories, the personal history of Edward Carroll somewhat parallels the history of the Carroll House, in that, what began as a humble farmhouse became a grand mansion. Carroll, no doubt, weathered the prejudices of being both Irish and Catholic, to emerge as a leader in the community and a highly respected man in the state.
The Edward Carroll Family exhibit during this year’s homes tour will highlight personal possessions of the family to include photos, letters, mementoes, and record books. The centerpiece of the exhibit will be the Carroll family Christmas china, a gift to Edward Carroll and Mary Ellen Hunt, upon their marriage in 1872. News clippings noting the high points of their lives are displayed, as well as a letter from Col. Cyrus H. Robinson, who commanded a unit in Leavenworth during Price’s Raid into Missouri, ordering Carroll to report as officer of the day. Calling cards of Edward and his bride, enclosed with an invitation to their wedding reception in August, 1872, an invitation to the Chicago World’s Fair, a doll made by the mother of Mrs. Carroll, and a cane purchased in France by Fred Harvey and personally presented to Edward number among the artifacts shown in the exhibit. A Victrola, purchased in 1915 by Mr. Carroll has been donated to the museum by the family and will be played throughout tour day.
For more information on the Carroll family or this year’s homes tour, a major fund raiser for the museum, contact the museum: 913-682-7759, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://leavenworthhistory.org to view the homes on the tour.