John Henry Kagi was the best educated of all the raiders, but was largely self-taught. Many admirably written letters survive as the productions of his pen, in the New York Tribune, the New York Evening Post, and the National Era. He was, moreover, an able man of business, besides being an excellent debater and speaker. He was an expert stenographer and a total abstainer. His father was the respected village blacksmith in Bristolville, Ohio, whose family was of Swiss descent, the name being originally Kagy. John A. Kagi was born at Bristolville, March 15, 1835; and was killed October 17, 1859. In 1854-55 ne taught school at Hawkinstown, Virginia, where he obtained a personal knowledge of slavery. This resulted in such abolition manifestations on his part, that he was compelled to leave for Ohio under a pledge never to return to Hawkinstown. Kagi then went to Nebraska City, Nebraska, where he was admitted to the bar. He next entered Kansas with one of General James H. Lane's parties. He enlisted in A. D. Stevens's ("Colonel Whipple's") Second Kansas Militia, and was captured in 1856 by United States troops. Kagi was imprisoned first at Lecompton and then at Tecumseh, but was finally liberated. He was assaulted and severely injured by Judge Elmore, the pro-slavery judge, who struck him over the head with a gold headed cane, on January 31, 1857. Kagi drew his revolver and shot the Judge in the groin. Elmore then fired three times and shot Kagi over the heart, the bullet being stopped by a memorandum-book. Kagi was long in recovering from his wounds. After a visit to his Ohio home he returned to Kansas and joined John Brown. When in Chambersburg as agent for the raiders, he boarded with Mrs. Mary Rittner.
Oswald Garrison Villard, John Brown, 1800-1859: A Biography Fifty Years After (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1910), 679.