William D. Matthews

William D. Matthews

Photo: Kansas Historical Society

1829 – 1906

Lt. William Dominick Matthews was an African American officer of the Independent Battery, U.S. Colored Light Artillery, at Fort Leavenworth. Prior to the Civil War, Matthews — a free Black man — operated a Leavenworth boarding house which became a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Assisted by Daniel R. Anthony (brother of women’s rights advocate Susan B. Anthony), Matthews helped many Missouri slaves escape to Kansas and other free states. With the outbreak of the war Matthews recruited his fellow African Americans into the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry and helped protect eastern Kansas from Gen. Sterling Price’s Confederate invasion of Missouri, which climaxed with the Battle of Westport in October 1864.

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