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Below is a family biography included in the book,  Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman Publishing Company.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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HON. ANDREW H. REEDER. The biographical record of the prominent citizens and worthy pioneers of Northampton County would be very incomplete without the life history of Governor Reeder, as he has been called. His is a name that stands high in the annals of the Republic, and shines brightly upon the roll of Easton’s noble dead. The family is of English origin. John Reeder emigrated to this country prior to 1856, and settled in Newton, L. I. His name is found on a list of residents of that place in that year. His son, John, went to Ewing, N. J., in the early part of the eighteenth century, and married Hannah, daughter of Jeremiah Burrough. They had a son, Isaac, who married Joanna Hunt, and their son, John, married Hannah Mershon. Among the children born of this marriage were Absalom Reeder, who married, October 16, 1788, Christiana Smith, of Easton, Pa. Of their union was born Andrew Horatio Reeder, July 12, 1807. The lad just mentioned received an elementary education in the place of his birth, and completed his studies at Lawrenceville, N. J., graduating with honor. Having selected the law for his profession, he entered the office of Hon. Peter Ihrie, one of the prominent lawyers of Easton. Mr. Reeder was admitted to the Bar of this county in 1828. In 1831 he married Miss Amelia Hutter, daughter of Christian J. Hutter. He soon became well known as a young man of ability and a ready speaker; and being industrious, ambitious and persevering he rose rapidly in the public esteem as one of the leading advocates of the Bar.

From his early life our subject took great interest in the political affairs of his country; and, possessed of a good voice, pleasing address and able argumentative powers, he was looked upon as one of the champions of Democracy of the Jeffersonian type. Without any effort or even knowledge on his part beforehand, he was offered the position of Governor of Kansas, and by this appointment became prominent in one of the most important political crises in the history of the Republic, and by his upright conduct and faithfulness to the liberty and best interests of those whom he was sent to govern acquired political immortality The people of Kansas were divided into two parties, each of which was terribly in earnest. One was determined to establish slavery, the other to uphold freedom in the territory. From New England, two thousand miles away, people came to make their homes on those distant and beautiful prairies; but also from the borders of Missouri came a hoard of marauders, armed with revolvers and rifles. At the first election they took possession of the polls, kept back the free-state voters, and elected the Legislature by fraud and violence. A committee came to Governor Reeder asking him to sign the certificates of those claiming to be elected members of the Territorial Legislature. He courteously, but decidedly, refused. “Governor Reeder,” said the committee, “we will give you fifteen minutes to sign these certificates, resign, or be hanged.” “Gentlemen, I need no fifteen minutes; my mind is made up. I shall hang,” was the stern reply. He had worked too long and too hard for his reputation to have it blasted by the stroke of his pen, and the boldness of his answer saved him for the time from violence.

A Congressional Committee, consisting of Messrs. Howard, Shannon and Oliver, went to Kansas to examine into the condition of affairs. The committee called the Governor to the stand, and he explained the situation, fearlessly exposing the conduct of the border ruffians. Governor Reeder was later superseded by ex-Governor Shannon, of Ohio, who plainly told the people of Kansas in an address on his arrival that he was in favor of slavery in the new state. This enraged the free-state men, and they repudiated Whitefield as their delegate in the Congress so fraudulently elected and chose Governor Reeder in his stead. There were two delegates elected to Congress, and the pro-slavery men saw this would necessitate a contest in the House, which they wished to avoid. Considering that the best way under the circumstances was to get Governor Reeder out of the way, he was marked for death while the committee was present. He was protected by his friends, but at last it was thought advisable for him to seek his own safety. Colonel Buford, of Alabama, went to Kansas City, and thence to Lawrence, with a regiment of well armed ruffians, recruited in South Carolina, whose avowed purpose was to aid the people of Missouri in making Kansas a slave state. They encamped close at hand on the watch. That night Governor Reeder left Lawrence, and, proceeding to Kansas City, arrived there at three o’clock in the morning. This fact became known in Buford’s camp quite early the same morning, and they were so enraged and chagrined that the hounds were let loose, roads were picketed, wagons were overhauled, steamboats searched, and every precaution taken to prevent the escape of the doughty Governor.

While the guests were at dinner at the Coates House, in Kansas City, some of Buford’s men entered, and their sudden appearance brought every one to his feet. Colonel Eldridge, the proprietor, demanded their business, and they replied that they had come to search the house for Reeder; and when the Colonel asked for their authority, he was answered that they had no papers, only an order from headquarters. Colonel Eldredge replied: “I will not resist any legal process, but you cannot search this house without it, unless you walk over the dead body of every man in it.” He was promptly seconded and upheld in this by his guests. The marauders then swore they would get the authority to make the search. For two weeks Governor Reeder was concealed in this hotel — weeks of anxious care and watching on the part of his friends. After the sacking of Lawrence and burning of the Free State Hotel, the ruffians returned to Kansas City, as they had suspicions that the Governor was concealed in the Coates House. The inmates were prepared for action, and danger seemed imminent. Through a strange providence, however, a steamer lay at the wharf discharging her cargo, and it was whispered that the Captain was a free-state man. He was going up the river and would return on a certain day. The matter was arranged with the Captain to stop on the return trip at a certain place on a signal to take in a passenger. The hotel was under strict surveillance, every person emerging therefrom being closely scanned, but it was arranged that the hunted hero should pass out of the hotel in disguise. The next day was the time to start, only one night intervening, but those were long, anxious, sleepless hours.

The following account of what followed was written by a lady who was an eye-witness of, and anxious participant in, the preparation for the Governor’s departure: “The morning dawned bright and beautiful. This day was to be a decision for weal or woe for the Governor, and as the hour approached our anxiety and excitement rose to fever heat. The time was close at hand when the Governor was to pass out from us, with the chances that he would ever return greatly against him. After he had dressed himself in his disguise, we all met in his room to bid him a last farewell. The disguise was complete, and turned our sorrow at parting to suppressed mirth. The Governor was cheerful, and even anxious, to cast the die. He gave us a specimen of acting in his new role which beggars description, and held us for the time in capital humor, but at the last moment, when he left his room, there was not a dry eye in the party. The door was closed behind us, and the hero left to his own reflections and his own self-reliance.

“That evening, just before dark, an Irishman was seen to enter the office of the hotel dressed in a slouch hat, hickory shirt, blue overalls (so short as to expose a heavy pair of brogan shoes on his feet), carrying an axe on his shoulder and smoking a short clay pipe. He stopped but a moment, inquired for work, if any wood were to be cut, or if he could be informed where he could get work. Not getting a satisfactory answer, he sauntered out on the sidewalk, and repeated the inquiry of the bystanders, then moved off up the river, and disappeared behind the bluff. At eleven o’clock that night, Edward S. Eldredge, a young brother of the landlord of the hotel, accompanied by his wife, strolled out foe a walk, going up the river around the point of the bluff. Nearing the mouth of a cave, they encountered the Irishman, holding his axe in the attitude of attack. Eldredge called out to him not to strike, and with that he dropped his weapon and approached. They knew each other, and after a moment of hasty conversation the trio went down to the water’s edge, got into a boat and floated gently down the stream to Randolph Landing, about five miles below the city. The steamer which was expected to take Governor Reeder down the river was to return this night, but did not reach Kansas City until near noon the next day. The Captain stood by the side of the pilot as the steamer gracefully started out into the stream, and when near Randolph Landing the Captain ordered the pilot to ‘round her to.’ The pilot could see no signal, but the Captain insisted that one had been made. On nearing our Irishman, the latter inquired if he could get deck passage to St. Charles. The Captain cursed him for delaying the boat, but said: ‘Get aboard, you old scalawag, I won’t wait two minutes for you.’ The Irishman obeyed with alacrity, clambered on board, and Governor Reeder had escaped from Kansas, ‘out of the jaws of death, out of the mouth of hell.’ “ The diary which the Governor kept from the time the clouds began to gather over his pathway reveals the feeling of a loving husband and father, whose family was more to him than his own life.

The fugitive Governor continued his journey on the steamboat, proceeding down the Missouri River, but he did not care to go to St. Louis, and when the steamer laid up for the night at St. Charles, on the left bank of the river, it was planned to have him leave the vessel and enter the dark woods as the safest plan. Two friends, who were armed and prepared to fight if need be, were to go with him. A violent thunder storm was raging, but they stuck to their program and started to the forest, losing the road twice, but traveling on, and at eight o’clock in the morning reached the Mississippi, fifteen miles above Alton. A man was hired to take them across the river to the Illinois side, and thus, on the 27th of May, the Governor landed in Illinois, a free state. A telegram carried the joyful news to his wife in the East, and there was a happy home in Easton.

Before he returned, the Governor went to Chicago, Bloomington and Detroit, raising his voice in aid of Kansas. He pleaded for ten thousand men to go to the rescue of the unfortunate state, and thousands were soon on their way. When at length a fair vote could be had, slavery was buried under a majority of ten thousand, and Kansas was free. The true patriot and self-denying man and hero returned to Easton, and in the quiet of private life spent his remaining days.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the book, Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman Publishing Company. 

View additional Northampton County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Northampton County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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