Hugh Cameron, The Hermit

(Deb) Welcome back. Well that was fascinating Frank. (Frank) Yea, wasn’t it? (Deb) Wasn’t it? It was nuts. Nuts R Us. Maybe that could be the other thing for today. And Hugh Cameron is going to fall into that category too. Had you ever heard of him? (Frank) When you talked about it, then I remembered OK, there was this hermit. A guy known as the Kansas Hermit. (Deb) The guy known as the Kansas Hermit. And that’s about all I knew. But when we were researching for our Charlie, the documentary project that we’ve been working on on Charles Curtis, one of the searches that I did was on Hib Case. Now Hib Case was an attorney in Topeka. He went on to be a federal judge of the territory of Hawaii and it’s one of his descendants that founded AOL. So, Case family, very prominent family. And Hugh Cameron was a friend of the Cases. And this is where I started really getting more details. So, when Hib Case passed away in Topeka, Hugh Cameron walked from…he lived near Lawrence, so he walked everywhere. And he walked to Topeka to see Mrs. Case, to express his condolences. Well, he looks like a hermit, big beard and everything, so he comes to the door and she lets him in and he warms by the fire. And so here’s this poor lady, you know her husband has just died, she’s planning his funeral. And you’ve got this friend or not, you got this old guy sitting there by your fire, and she said, “Do you want to stay?” “No, I’m OK.” Well he falls asleep by the fire and she wakes him up and says, “You know, just go upstairs and go to bed.” So the next day she goes upstairs and he’s dead. So, it ain’t bad enough that your husband has just died. Now, you’ve got this dead hermit in the bedroom upstairs. I mean, can you imagine? Really? So, then that got me looking for the rest of the story on Hugh Cameron. And it’s just another one you cannot make up. (Frank) Do-do-do-do! (Deb) Do-do-do-do! (Frank) And now you’re entering the Twilight Zone. (Deb) Yea, really. Let’s take a look. According to the book, Wonderful Old Lawrence, Hugh Cameron came to Lawrence in July 1854. He was a free-state man and decided to come to Kansas where the action was. He is listed as a farmer in Andreas History of Kansas, 1883. His place was three miles north and west of Lawrence, on the south side of the Kansas River, and was designated as “Cameron Bluff”. He was born in New York state. He did not go to school but was self-educated, and he must have been a good teacher since he became a professor of mathematics at the Rittenhouse Academy in Washington, D. C. He didn’t get to stay there too long as he was fired because he was linked with a close friend who was a radical. From there he came to Kansas. When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted and served two years in the 2nd Kansas Cavalry and came out a captain. He then served four years in the 2nd Arkansas Cavalry and came out a Lt. Colonel. In later years he was brevetted Brig. General of Volunteers for Meritorious services. He was called by many “General Cameron.” The Hermit was a walker. All through the years, he walked to Washington to attend every inaugural ceremony. He had important friends in Washington. Webster and Clay were intimate friends. Politically, he was usually on the side of the minority. He printed a journal called “The Useful Worker” which was devoted to sobriety, equality and equity. Cameron at one time lived in a tree near Lawrence. He counted among his friends many Kansas veterans of the Civil War.

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