Charles W. Dow(unknown-November 21, 1855)[n 1] was an early Kansas settler who became the first person murdered in Kansas after being shot by Franklin Coleman.
Settling In Kansas
Charles Dow, along with his father Ladd, came to Kansas in 1855 from Ohio and settled in the Hickory Point (now Stony Point) area of Douglas County. Dow, a free stater, was shot by Franklin Coleman over a land dispute and was killed immediately. Coleman initially blamed Jacob Branson, a friend of Dow's, for the murder. Dow was initially buried on his land but was later moved to Baldwin City's Oakwood Cemetery along with his father who was originally buried in Stony Point Cemetery.
The murder of Dow triggered a series of confrontations that later led to the Sacking of Lawrence, the Wakarusa War, the Pottawatomie Massacre and the Battle of Black Jack. Coleman was one of the men taken captive during the Battle of Black Jack in 1856 and was linked to another murder of a free stater that year. The Dow Cemetery was used until 1873 when Stony Point Cemetery was founded and is estimated to contain 75 burials. The cemetery is nearly lost now but a redwood sign still marks the location.
There are two local legends about Franklin Coleman, one where Coleman was chased by other free staters after the murder and holed himself up in a cave that collapsed due to his firing gun. Another legend is that Coleman was returning from the gold fields of Pikes Peak and was attacked by robbers, hid in the cave which collapsed as he defended himself. The cave is located near Eisenhower Street in Baldwin.
- Some sources say November 21, 1855 while others say December 20, 1855. Dow's tombstone in Oakwood Cemetery reads December 20, 1855. According to the Lawrence Herald of Freedom newspaper, Dow's obituary says November 21st.
- Complete Tombstone Census of Douglas County, Kansas Douglas County Kansas Genealogical Society, 1989. Pages 281-282.
- A Self-Guided Tour of Baldwin City's Historic Sites by Loren K. Litteer, 1997. Pages 18, 26-27
- Ibid. Page 18.