Eli C. Thayer (1819 - 1899) MP

Worcester, Worcester, MA, USA

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Place of Burial: Worcester, Worcester, MA, USA
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Mendon, Worcester, MA, USA
Death: Died in Brooklyn, Jackson, MI, USA
Managed by: Martin Eriksen
Last Updated:
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About Eli C. Thayer

Eli Thayer was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1857 to 1861. Prior to that, he was the founder of the New England Emigrant Aid Company that brought pro-free state settlers to the Kansas Territory, a precursor to the Bleeding Kansas events of 1854-1858.

Thayer was born in Mendon, Massachusetts. He graduated from Worcester Academy in 1840, from Brown University in 1845, and in 1848 founded Oread Institute, a school for young women in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is buried at Hope Cemetery in Worcester.

Kansas Crusade

He is chiefly remembered for his connection with the "Kansas Crusade," the purpose of which was to secure the admission of Kansas to the Union as a free State. With this aim in view, early in 1854 Thayer organized the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company to send anti-slavery settlers to the Kansas Territory. In 1855, this organization joined with the New York Emigrant Aid Company and the name was changed to the New England Emigrant Aid Company.

Local leagues were established whose members emigrated to Kansas and established towns. The Company provided hotels for temporary accommodation and provided sawmills and other improvements. Settlements were established at Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan, and Osawatomie. The clash of these settlers and other "Free-Stater" Northerners with proslavery settlers spawned the violence of Bleeding Kansas.

Thayer wanted to establish an antislavery colony in Virginia, but land was too expensive. He then looked to western Virginia. Thayer chose to build his colony at the mouth of Twelvepole Creek in Wayne County, Virginia now West Virginia. He named his town Ceredo after the goddess Ceres. The town was founded in 1857. He enlisted fellow abolitionist Zopher D. Ramsdell to settle there and establish a boot and shoe factory. It is open as a historic house museum.

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Eli C. Thayer, U.S. Representative's Timeline

1819
June 11, 1819
Mendon, Worcester, MA, USA
1840
1840
Age 20
1845
August 6, 1845
Age 26
Millville, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
1847
June 22, 1847
Age 28
Worcester, MA, USA
1849
January 15, 1849
Age 29
1850
December 2, 1850
Age 31
1853
February 6, 1853
Age 33
1855
November 11, 1855
Age 36
1857
December 22, 1857
Age 38
Massachusetts, USA
1857
Age 37
Brooklyn, Jackson, Michigan, USA