David L. Croysdale was a 26-year-old physician from Clay County, Missouri, where his family had been among the first settlers. [Whitney, Kansas City, 518] In 1854, Croysdale was appointed government physician at the Pottawatomie Baptist Manual Labor School near the future Topeka. There he served with Missionary and Council Member David Lykins and was responsible for the health of the 3,400 members of the tribe under his appointment from Indian Agent George W. Clarke. [Cutler's History, Shawnee County]
Agent Clarke, from Van Buren, Arkansas, was a loyal Democrat whose efforts had helped elect Franklin Pierce in 1852. A newspaper editor and former state representative, he probably owned slaves in Arkansas, and brought at least two black slave women when he moved his family to Kansas. The position of Indian Agent was lucrative. The historian Barbara Brackman writes:
"Agents had insider knowledge useful for speculation in former tribal lands; they commissioned traders who might offer bribes and kickbacks for the rights to sell goods to the tribe, and the agent dispersed the regular federal annuity payments. Clarke quickly took advantage of at least the last opportunity, skimming fifty cents off the top of each payment to members of the Pottawatomi tribe." [KSHS, This Week in Territorial History #33]
Clarke became one of the most hated figures in the territory by free-state settlers. In December 1855 he fought in the "Wakarusa War" near Lawrence and murdered Thomas Barber, a free-state man he met on the road outside of town. [Connelley, Prairie Band, 501]
Gratiot Street Prison, St. Louis
A prison for Confederate POW's and civilians suspected of disloyalty.
It is not clear how long after 1855 Croysdale remained at his government medical post, but not past 1859 when the Baptist Mission closed. He joined the Confederate Army as surgeon for MacDonald's Missouri Cavalry Regiment, which in 1863 became the 10th Missouri Cavalry, CSA. He was captured by Union forces and imprisoned in St. Louis, probably at Gratiot Street Military Prison, a Union Army facility for POW's and civilian political prisoners. Conditions in the prison were terrible and Croysdale died in captivity. On October 15, 1863, he was buried in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery with a few other Confederate POW's and many Union soldiers. [http://www.missouridivision-scv.org/jbgraves.htm]
Back home, the Croysdale family prospered after the war. His brother William, a merchant and large farmer, was elected director of Jackson County Agricultural and Mechanical Association in 1870. [History of Jackson County, 203] William lived until 1907. David's nephews, William and (name-sake) David L. Croysdale, in 1894 formed Croysdale Grain Company, which became "one of the strongest commission firms operating on the Kansas City Board of Trade." [Whitney, Kansas City 519]