Posted by: justnaturallyme | September 7, 2008

Following Freedom’s Trail II

This morning started out great. After a generous continental breakfast at the Holiday Inn in Independence, we headed for Harrisonville. We arrived at an 1835 log cabin/museum maintained by the Harrisonville Historic Society. We enjoyed a short play preformed on that small log cabin porch. It portrayed the Younger family’s plight in pre-Civil War Missouri. The families were driven out of their homes by Jayhawkers under the infamous Order Eleven. This was a part of the Civil War drama I wasn’t very familiar with. I had always believed it started with Fort Sumter. After seeing Widow Younger and her three small children driven out and even forced to burn her own home and trek 60 miles into Kansas, I understand Quantrill’s Raiders better. Her son, Cole Younger, rode with Quantrill where he met the James brothers and later became a member of the James gang.

Our next stop was the Mahaffie Stagecoach and Farmhouse. We had lunch at the visitor’s center and then toured the 1865 farmhouse. Beatty and Lucinda were prosperous farmers but provided meals for the passengers on the coaches. We rode a stagecoach. Surprisingly comfortable, sampled some cornbread baked in a wood stove by costumed re-enactors.

We stopped at the site of the Battle of Black Jack, when out of the woods, who should appear but Old John Brown. Once he found out we were not pro-slavery, he spoke to us passionately about his cause. He took us through the battlefield and explained the events.  After, out of character, he explained how they foundation had come to own the field where this battle occurred. What they have accomplished since 2003, when they first acquired the property is remarkable. Their future plans for a nature park and renovation of the Pierson home is even more remarkable.

We drove by the Haskell Indian School where another type of freedom was involved: The freedom to maintain your own culture. Today the school is a thriving college where Native American students from many different tribes learn. Originally, it was a training school where young Indian children were taken from their parents and forced to accept an alien culture.

We toured Oak Hill Cemetery where so many of Kansas influential people are buried beginning with the victims of Quantrill’s massacre.

We stopped at Holiday Inn in Laurence long enough to register and then off to dinner at a unique venue, The Territorial Capital. A nice buffet was set up for us. The real fun was when we divided into pro-slavery and free-staters and participated in a play “Bleeding Kansas,” written by J.Howard Duncan . The characters who played a part in early Lecompton History addressed us, representing the settlers of Kansas, and we were instructed to cheer for “our side” and boo the “opposing side.”

Easy to do when it was just political views even if we didn’t agree with them. However, when “Mahala Doyle”  stood at the podium and spoke of how John Brown’s raiders

Had taken her husband and two sons from their home in the dead of night and brutally slaughtered them, no one on either side could boo. It was too poignant! Ironically, the Doyles were a family from a southern state but were not slave holders. “We only came here for the land!” the widow cried.

The Widow Doyle

The Widow Doyle

Next an impassioned “John Brown” took the podium. He raved that to end the evil of slavery, blood needed to be shed. So much blood was shed in Kansas. How much was unnecessary? How much did it take to earn the sobriquet “Bleeding Kansas?”

We then toured Constitution Hall where the failed Lecompton

Constitution was drafted.

Last stop was the Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence for desert and wine. This hotel had been burned by pro-slavery advocates and rebuilt by James Eldridge.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: