on location: midwest ❖
n Jan. 29, Kansas celebrated 150 years of statehood. It was that day in 1861 when Kansas entered the Union as the 34th state. By this time the territory had already been through the trials and tribulations of Bleeding Kansas, a course of violent incidents involving anti-slavery activists and pro-slavery advocates. At issue was whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state; the violence foreshadowed the Civil War. Throughout 2011 Kansas will hold a myriad of sesquicentennial events to honor its statehood. In addition, the Sunflower State will remember its struggles and triumphs during the Civil War because 2011 also is the sesquicentennial of the start of the four-year conflict that ripped apart a nation. Following is just a sampling of historical sites and events that may enhance group itineraries: Civil War on the Western Frontier, Lawrence, Aug. 12-21: Every year Lawrence hosts Civil War on the Western Frontier, a series of events held around the anniversary of Quantrill’s Raid. On Aug. 21, 1863, as the conflict over slavery continued, Confederate guerrilla William Quantrill and his raiders attacked Lawrence, killing hundreds and destroying the city. After the raid, Lawrence residents came together to bury their dead and rebuild the city. This year Lawrence will again commemorate its Civil War history through presentations, lectures and exhibits throughout Lawrence and Douglas County. The Lawrence Visitor Center presents “Lawrence: Free State Fortress,” a 25-minute docudrama about Lawrence’s part in Bleeding Kansas and the Civil War. (785-865-4499, visitlawrence.com)
Civil War days in Kansas come alive during reenactments at Fort Scott. 48 April 2011
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John Brown Museum, Osawatomie: At the John Brown Museum visitors can tour the cabin of Rev. Samuel Adair and his wife Florella, half-sister of abolitionist John Brown. The cabin was a station on the Underground Railroad as well as John Brown’s headquarters. It’s furnished with Adair family belongings and has an assortment of Civil War weapons and items that tell the story of pioneer life and the 1856 Battle of Osawatomie. The cabin survived the battle, one of the largest battles in a series of events known as Bleeding Kansas. The battle matched John Brown and his army against John Reid’s pro-slavery militia. On Sept. 1718 the museum will host the Freedom Festival, a historical event with firstperson narratives, a reenactment of the Battle of Osawatomie, period craft demonstrations, modern military displays and live music. (913-755-4384, kshs.org/portal_john_brown) Black Jack Battlefield Park, Wellsville: On June 2, 1856 anti-slavery activist John Brown led his mercenaries to attack a pro-slavery militia along the Santa Fe Trail in the Kansas Territory. This combat is known as the
Fort Scott National Historic Site preserves frontier military history.
Battle of Black Jack. Black Jack Battlefield Park offers tours that examine the territory bordering the battlefield as well as the function of the Santa Fe Trail. In honor of Kansas’ 150 years of statehood the park will stage a battle reenactment on June 2-4. (785-883-2106, blackjackbattlefield.org) Kansas Museum of History, Topeka: One of the main exhibits focuses on the Civil War. Artifacts include John Brown’s pike, the actual knife-like weapon John Brown used in his fight against slavery, and the original sword and equipment from James Gillpatrick Blunt, free-state advocate and brigadier general in the Civil War. In the special exhibits gallery this year, the 150 Things I Love About Kansas will feature 150 objects, images and documents that salute the state’s rich history over the past century and a half. (785-272-8681, kshs.org/portal_museum) Constitution Hall, Lecompton:
Visitors will be enlightened about the political struggles Kansas had in the 1850s. One of the more momentous occasions occurred in 1857 when the Lecompton Constitutional Government assembled in a second floor room and drafted a pro-slavery constitution as free-state and anti-slavery activists rallied outside the building. Guests can see the Lecompton Constitution and peruse various exhibits on the Kansas territorial government as well as free-state and pro-slavery factions. (785-887-6520, kshs.org/portal_constitution_hall) Mine Creek Battlefield, Pleasanton: On Oct. 25, 1864, about 2,800 Union troops invaded and overthrew about 8,000 Confederates along the banks of Mine Creek. This was one of the largest artillery battles in the Civil War. Visitors can walk the 2.6-mile trail through the battlefield and then peruse exhibits. (913-352-8899, kshs.org/portal_mine_creek) Fort Scott National Historic Site, Fort Scott: Established by the U.S. Army from 1842-1853, Fort Scott is yet another attraction where visitors are immersed in the history of Bleeding Kansas and the Civil War. The site hosts living history presentations and reenactments of military training activities. (620-223-0310, nps.gov/fosc) LGT
Civil War itineraries in Kansas might include Black Jack Battlefield Park. LeisureGroupTravel.com
Read Nancy Wolens’ article on Kansas’ Frontier Military Scenic Byway. Log on to http://leisuregrouptravel.com/?p=22834.
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