John M. Banks was born in Pennsylvania and was 36 years old in 1855. He came to Kansas Territory in the middle of September 1854 and established a claim in the Hickory Point community on the Santa Fe Road, ten miles south of Lawrence. [Howard Report, 161] Hickory Point was a pro-slavery stronghold and despite his northern birth, Banks seems to have fit in. His neighbor Franklin Coleman, who killed Charles Dow, a free-state squatter, in a land dispute near Hickory Point, described Banks as a free-state man. And yet, Coleman and Banks were partners in "jumping an abandoned claim" at Hickory Point. [Brewerton, War in Kansas, 227]
Battle of Hickory Point
Pro-slavery town attacked by free-state forces in September 1856.
Banks told to the Howard Committee that he had not entered into any arrangement to bring illegal voters from Missouri to secure his election. He thought the pro-slavery and free-state sides were about equal in his district but he had not campaigned much through the countryside. He admitted he did know Colonel Samuel Young when he saw him and did see him at his polling place on election day. [Howard Report, 163ff] Samuel Young was a leading lawyer in Boone County, Missouri and along with future Missouri Governor Claiborne Jackson, brought 1,000 men to vote in Lawrence and surrounding precincts in May 1855. [Cordley, History of Lawrence, Ch3] If he had no association with the Missourians, why did Banks recognize Samuel Young?
After the first session of the Bogus Legislature, Banks served as county commissioner of Douglas County and was an incorporator of the paper town of Louisiana, two miles north of Baldwin. [KHC 12:482] On January 12, 1857, Governor Geary appointed a replacement county commissioner. Banks had "removed from the territory." [Geary, Executive Minutes,667]