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Template:Infobox Congressman Eli Thayer (1819-1899) was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1857 to 1861. Thayer was born in Mendon, Massachusetts. He graduated from Worcester Academy in 1840, from Brown University in 1845, and in 1848 founded Oread Institute, a school for young women in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is buried at Hope Cemetery in Worcester.

He is chiefly remembered for his connection with the "Kansas Crusade," the purpose of which was to secure the admission of Kansas to the Union as a free State. With this aim in view, early in 1854 Thayer organized the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company to send anti-slavery settlers to the Kansas Territory. In 1855, this organization joined with the New York Emigrant Aid Company and the name was changed to the New England Emigrant Aid Company.

Local leagues were established whose members emigrated to Kansas and established towns. The Company provided hotels for temporary accommodation and provided sawmills and other improvements. Settlements were established at Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan, and Osawatomie. The clash of these settlers and other "Free-Stater" Northerners with proslavery settlers spawned the violence of Bleeding Kansas.

Thayer wanted to establish an antislavery colony in Virginia, but land was too expensive. He then looked to western Virginia. Thayer chose to build his colony at the mouth of Twelvepole Creek in Wayne County, Virginia now West Virginia. He named his town Ceredo after the goddess Ceres. The town was founded in 1857.



  • Thayer, Eli.: (1889). History of the Kansas Crusade: Its Friends and its Foes
  • Napier, Mose.: Ceredo: Its Founders and Families
  • The New York Times, Sisters Run Down by Auto; Mrs. Clara Thayer Perry Dead, Miss Ida M. Thayer Dying September 18, 1914, p. 5.

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