I decided to take a drive today and made a few stops along the way. It was a beautiful day so I figured it was a good day to explore and see some history.
There is quite a lot of Civil War history to be found along the Kansas/Missouri border. I mentioned in a previous posit not lions ago about the Underground Railroad tunnels and history in Leavenworth, KS. There was also a Military Road that ran from Fort Leavenworth south basically along the route of present day US 69.
Along parts of this route is where I drove today. I did not get to stop at some other places I wanted to stop due to time constraints but I will definitely go back. The first place I stopped was The Trading Post near Pleasanton, KS.
The Marias des Cygnes Massacre was one of many skirmishes along the border towns between Free Staters in KS and Slave State supporters in MO. John Brown was one of the more famous people in these battles; there’s a mural of him in the KS State Capital building in Topeka (and that cover of the first Kansas album is John Brown in that mural).
I met a really nice lady working there who showed me around the place along with one of her two young daughters. She grew up in the area and has a long family history there so she knows the area well and has a fantastic knowledge of the history. She talked about the history of the area and showed me some things in the museum.
There are many, many artifacts in the Trading Post Museum. I will have to go back there to spend more time looking at things closer.
She then showed me around the Tubbs cabin next door. The cabin was tiny and I think she counted seven (!) people lived in a one-room main floor and a room upstairs
The stairs were very steep and reminded me of ones we used in a hotel in Amsterdam. Personal possessions were sparse and mostly only basic necessities to function day to day. It’s is hard to fathom just how difficult those days were. Those were some bad-assed people back in those days. We are pretty spoiled in comparison.
After that we went to the one-room schoolhouse.
There is another bit of history in the area – the Potawatomi Trail of Death. Another land grab resulting in broken promises and needless deaths, this unfortunate tribe of Native Americans were forced to march from Indiana to Kansas – a distance of over 600 miles. I have been to the Memorial Park but it has been many years ago that I have been there.
We chatted for quite a while longer about many other things as well but unfortunately I had to get on the road. A big thanks to Allie for taking the time to show me around. I will be back I am sure. I would like to visit some of the other sites in the area when I have more time. I did not get to go to the Massacre site, the Marias des Cygnes Wildlife Refuge, a battlefield, and a few other sites of interest. It would make a good weekend trip with the trailer.
I continued south to Ft. Scott, KS.
West of the Eastern population centers that were prominent in the 1800s it was frontier and “Indian Territory”. States in the areas west of the Mississippi were not really established yet but the U.S. had vested interests in conquering the rest so forts were established as a presence and for scouting. Fort Scott was one such fort.
The back of building in the left of the picture above was a hotel at one time and was a hotbed of slavery activity, both pro and con. From what I gathered from the interpretive signs it was a very rough and tumble place.
Fort Scott had been established well before the Civil War and was mainly for managing “Indian Territory” as they called it. After it was decommissioned as a fort the buildings were used for various things as the fort sits basically downtown:
The NPS has turned it into a Historic Site and I am glad they do this with these places. It is good to see the history “for real”. When you can walk into a real building and see how people lived, worked, eat, slept and fought it brings it to life. It’s not just “another story” in a book. I have seen many of these forts, and I have written about a few in this blog – Bent’s Old Fort in CO, Ft. Laramie in WY (and other forts and gun emplacements on the north coast of Washington along the Salish Sea) just to name a couple – but I have been to others in the past. I will be visiting more in the future and will be posting those trips as well.
I took a walk around the grounds – again, I was short on time so I could not see everything and read all the signs. But I did see a few things and took some pictures.
This is another place I want to go back to visit. I do like me some history so I find this fascinating despite the fact I may not always agree with why things were done; it’s how we got to where were are today and that is important to know and understand.
And in many cases NOT repeat the past.