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JAYHAWKERS, a name applied to the Free State bands active in the Kansas-Missouri border war between 1856 and 1859, particularly the band captained by Charles R. Jennison. It was also applied to Union guerrilla bands during the Civil War and to the Seventh Kansas Cavalry, commanded by Jennison. Because of real and alleged depredations attributed to the Jayhawkers, the term became one of opprobrium. The term's origin is uncertain, but a party of gold seekers from Galesburg, Illinois, may have coined it in 1849 and used it in California. (Traditional stories of the term's origin in Kansas are apocryphal.) After the Civil War, "Jayhawker" became the popular nickname for a Kansan.


Napier, Rita, ed. History of the Peoples of Kansas. Lawrence: University of Kansas, 1985.

Samuel A.Johnson/c. w.

See alsoBorder Ruffians ; Border War ; Kansas-Nebraska Act ; Lecompton Constitution ; Pottawatomie Massacre .