Researched and written
by Jim Bousman
    On a warm spring morning in the year 1881, a fine buggy pulled by a high stepping horse is
    west bound on the north side of the square in Paola, Kansas.  Driving the buggy is a
    handsome young lady with flowing blond hair, dressed in a fashionable white dress, and
    wearing a white bonnet with ribbons flapping in the breeze.   

    She smiles and waves to the gentlemen gathered along the north side of the park square
    engaged in solving the problems of the day.  One young man’s head turns as his gaze
    follows the carriage.  

    “Sir”, he asked, “Who is that young lady?”  

    “That”, replies another man, “is Miss Flora.”

    After many years, a mature graying man says to the hotel clerk as he signs the register,
    “The last time I was in your fair city, I saw a young lady driving a buggy and was told her
    name was Miss Flora. After all these years, I cannot get her out of my mind.”  

    “Does she still live here?” he inquires.  

    “Miss Flora”, puzzles the clerk, “No, she moved away some years ago.”   

    “I see”, says the man.  “Is there anything you can tell me about her”, he asked.

    The clerk paused for a moment and appeared to be in deep thought.  Then begins: “Well,
    as I recall, she came to Kansas in 1857 with her mother and sister.  Her father had bought a
    claim out Stanton way and the family lived there for a short period of time.  Some say her
    mother wasn’t suited to pioneer life and they moved into town.  Her father ran a hotel until
    his death in 1869.  

    Oh, another thing, her father and Harmon Beeson brought Quantrill to the county.  Bill
    Quantrill spent a lot of time with her family. In ’61 he was arrested in Stanton and brought
    here to Paola’s jail.  After being released from jail, some say, Quantrill went directly to the
    hotel for a party.  

    Yes sir, Quantrill sure did raise a ruckus during the War of the Rebellion.”

    “After Miss Flora’s father died, her mother married a prominent lawyer here in town.  You
    know, he raised Miss Flora and her sister Lillie as his own.  In fact, Miss Flora even took his
    last name.  Miss Flora was quite a young lady.  She spent a lot of time helping her step-
    father in his law business.  Read a lot of books and could speak several different

    Not only that, but she was accomplished in music and painting and well educated.  In 1879,
    Miss Flora was way ahead of her time when she entered law school in St. Louis. Not only
    that, but she was the only lady in the law school.  In those days, it was almost unheard of for
    a lady to study law.”

    “Did you know she was the second lady to be admitted to practice law in the state?  Sucks,
    had old Judge Stevens come to town a week earlier, she would had been the first lady
    admitted to practice law in the state.  As it was, Mrs. Jennie Kellogg of Emporia was the first
    lady admitted to the bar in Kansas.”

    “Anyway, Miss Flora traveled all over Europe and hob knobbed with those socialites in New
    York City. Now I can’t prove this, but some say Miss Flora was the legal advisor to the ‘Witch
    of Wall Street’.  But you know, I suspect this is just a little yellow journalism.   While living in
    New York, she lived with her sister, Mrs. Lillie Kemp on Long Island.”

    “But”, stammered the man, “what was her name?”  

    “Her name”, replied the clerk “was Flora Torrey Wagstaff.”

    In the fall of 1918 while preparing to return to Paola, Flora Torrey Wagstaff became ill.  She
    died in New York City on February 23, 1919.  She is buried alongside her mother, who died
    several years earlier, in Mt. Vernon cemetery.
Miss Flora
from the NY Sun
February 25, 1919
click on picture to enlarge
from the
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
March 20, 1881
click on picture to enlarge
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Miami County Historical Museum - 12 E. Peoria, - Paola, KS 66071 Phone: 913-294-4940
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